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Asbell Leads National Ocular Antibiotic Resistance Study, Publishes in JAMA


The results of a 10-year ongoing study led by Penny A. Asbell, MD, FACS, MBA, FARVO, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI), have been published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Ophthalmology. This surveillance study examines isolates from eye infections across the United States and analyzes trends in antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Penny Asbell

The Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring in Ocular micRoorganisms (ARMOR) surveillance study evaluated in vitro antibiotic resistance rates in ocular bacteria collected from 41 states (88 medical centers) from 2009 to 2018. The study, titled Trends in Antibiotic Resistance Among Ocular Microorganisms in the United States From 2009 to 2018, found that antibiotic resistance was prevalent in ocular bacteria (staphylococci), and bacteria that were resistant were also likely to be multi-drug resistant. Antibiotic resistance was also found to be higher in the southern and western parts of the United States, as well as more common in older patients.

“This surveillance study has given us an incredible and unique view of eye infections across a 10-year period,” said Dr. Asbell. “We are conducting the only ongoing surveillance study of eye infections across the U.S. These data will enable clinicians to better choose the best antibiotic for each patient and scenario.”

Dr. Asbell and her colleagues will continue the nationwide study, which is sponsored by Bausch + Lomb, a global eye health business. She hopes that the coming years of research will answer more of their questions, leading to even better methods for treating patients with serious eye infections and ultimately, preservation of vision.

“With over 6,000 isolates collected from eye infections, we have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about antibiotic resistance,” said Dr. Asbell. “Among research questions to be considered include possible genetic differences among the samples – information that may lead to improved diagnostics and therapies, the genetic drift of these pathogens among different areas of the U.S. and how that affects spread and resistance, and possibly understanding why some bacteria cause intra-ocular infections that are associated with permanent loss of vision, while others do not.”

The recently published article, along with supplemental information, can be found online: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/2763805.

The team has also launched an interactive data site for the ARMOR study: https://armor.ihma.com/.