The Secret Powers In Your Eyes

As a self-proclaimed germaphobe, I’ll share with you that bacteria are everywhere…and they want in!  This is the case all over our bodies.

But, a group of stellar researchers noticed that, unlike other surfaces of the body, the surface of the eye has no living bacteria on it!  Even when your eye suffers a scratch or scrape, in many cases it heals quickly and without any treatment.

A few years ago, a study was commissioned to find out the secret to just why our eyes are so resistant to infection.  The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, was just completed and the findings are quite amazing! In fact, they may help in the future development of powerful and inexpensive antimicrobial drugs. The secret exists in our eyes’ proteins, specifically a protein called keratin!

In addition to the eyes having an uncanny way of keeping bacteria away, researchers also noted that the cornea’s tissue is extremely strong and has the power to destroy several different types of bacteria.  They poked and prodded, scraped and infected the tissue and it withstood an amazing amount.

They also found that synthetic versions of keratin were powerful enough to destroy bacteria that can lead to strep throat, diarrhea, staph, flesh-eating disease, and even cystic fibrosis lung infections.  According to the principal investigator on the study, Suzanne Fleiszig, a professor at the School of Optometry at Berkeley, finding out how effective these keratins are at fighting disease is an exciting discovery. Unlike a lot of synthetically developed germ fighters, keratins already exist in our bodies and are non-toxic and not likely to be rejected by the body.

“It is very difficult to infect the cornea of a healthy eye. We’ve even used tissue paper to damage the eye’s surface cells and then plastered them with bacteria, and still had trouble getting bacteria to enter the cornea. So we proposed that maybe there were antimicrobial factors that are unique to the eye,” Fleiszig explained in the school’s press release.

But, just because your eyes do an amazing job of taking care of defending themselves against disease, doesn’t mean you are off the hook when it comes to caring for them.  Though rare, eye infections, and diseases are still possible. Make an appointment to see your optometrist at an America’s Best right away if you are experiencing redness, discomfort, pain, or any other signs of a potential eye health issue.

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