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Chapter 3.10 : Ocular Cultures
Ocular infections are defined by the anatomic structures that are affected. A wide variety of microorganisms cause both acute and chronic eye infections, but many noninfectious inflammatory diseases may also involve one or more parts of the ocular system. An excellent description of the anatomy of the eye and the specific types of clinical infection that occur at specific ocular structures and the tissues surrounding the eye is provided in Cumitech 13B, by Gray et al. ( 1 ). It is clinically relevant to divide eye infections into those that involve superficial structures (i.e., eyelids, lacrimal system, and the orbital and periorbital soft tissues) and inner eye structures (sclera, cornea, iris, anterior and posterior chambers, lens, vitreous, retina, choroid, uvea, macula, fovea, and optic nerve) ( Table 3.10–1 and Table 3.10–2 ). Whereas superficial eye infections are usually due to bacteria that colonize the skin, inner eye infections may involve a wide variety of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses ( 1 ). Early clinical and laboratory diagnosis of inner eye infections is paramount to the patient having a good outcome. Inner eye infections should be urgently identified and treated to prevent loss of visual acuity or, in the most severe cases, loss of the eye itself ( 1 ).