The ocular surface is constantly exposed to a wide array of microorganisms. The ability of the outer ocular system to recognize pathogens as foreign and eliminate them is critical to retain corneal transparency, hence preservation of sight. Therefore, a combination of mechanical, anatomical, and immunological defense mechanisms has evolved to protect the outer eye. These host defense mechanisms are classified as either a native, nonspecific defense or a specifically acquired immunological defense requiring previous exposure to an antigen and the development of specific immunity. Sight-threatening immunopathology with autologous cell damage also can take place after these reactions. This article discusses the innate and acquired corneal elements of the immune defense at the ocular surface. The relative roles of the various factors contributing to prevention of eye infection remain to be fully defined.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems