Microbiological Evaluation of Chronic Blepharitis Among Iranian Veterans Exposed to Mustard Gas: A Case-Controlled Study
Purpose: To evaluate the microbiological characteristics of eyelid margin flora in chronic blepharitis in mustard gas-exposed individuals and compare the results with those in age-and sex-matched unexposed people. Methods: In this comparative case series, 289 patients with ocular manifestations of mustard gas exposure (case) were evaluated for signs of chronic blepharitis. Additionally, microbiological evaluation of eyelid margins was conducted in these patients and compared with results of 100 unexposed patients with chronic blepharitis (control). Results: One-hundred fifty (52.0%) of 289 mustard gas casualties had signs of chronic blepharitis. Microbiological evaluation revealed higher isolation rates of Staphylococcus epidermidis (78%) and Staphylococcus aureus (57%) in the case in comparison to control group (P < 0.01). Moreover, S. aureus isolated from the cases exhibited greater resistance to common antibiotics compared with control group. Fungi were isolated more frequent in the case compared with controls (30% vs. 4%, P < 0.01), with Cladosporium and Candida species being most common in the case group. Conclusions: Exposure to mustard gas seems to alter the microbiological flora of the eyelid margin. Staphylococcus spp., including antibiotic-resistant strains, and fungi were more frequently isolated in these patients. The relationship between microbial culture results and the severity of ocular surface manifestations in mustard gas-injured cases warrant further investigation.