Another week, another development in our understanding of dry eye symptoms. The Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) recently announced further findings from research looking into whether an imbalance or ‘dysbiosis’ of bacteria on the ocular surface contributes to an unstable tear film and thus dry eyes.

The Institute had previously presented a paper at this year’s ARVO showing the results of swab cultures and dry eye symptoms questionnaires for 186 participants with varying degrees of dry eye. Initially, only a weak correlation between dry eye symptoms and the ocular surface bacterial burden had been suggested. A stronger correlation between the bacterial burden and MGD has already been implied by previous studies.

The latest announcement develops this area by suggesting that, although there were no strong correlations between the specific bacterial species and dry eye, there were suggestions that a higher bacterial burden is correlated with increased signs of dry eye. More intriguingly, the BHVI are investigating a ‘novel treatment for dry eye’ – presumably one that directly influences the surface flora. Look out for a paper discussing the research output from BHVI in Optician in the next few weeks.

On a different note, I thought I knew the etymology of most ocular terms. ‘Cornea’ is derived from the term for horn (as in cornucopia – ‘horn of plenty’) and reminds us of its ectodermal origins. The neural mesh that is the retina derives its name from the Latin rete meaning ‘net’ and so on. What I have only just realised is why the pupil is so named.

The term is the same as that applied to schoolchildren (Latin pupus for boy and pupa for girl – or developing insect for that matter) and stems from the belief that, when you see the minified image of yourself when staring into another’s eyes, you are seeing yourself as you were as a child. One for the pub quizzers.