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Dimitra Skondra, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science Director, J. Terry Ernest Ocular Imaging Center at The University of Chicago Medicine, discusses the microbiota, diseases of the eye, macular degeneration, and eye health.

Podcast Points:

  • Is there a connection between the microbiome and eye health?
  • Does diet play a role in macular degeneration?
  • What do we now understand about the gut microbiome that we didn’t in past years?


Dr. Dimitra Skondra is a sought-after and respected, board-certified retina specialist, and she primarily focuses on medical and surgical treatments of vitreoretinal diseases.

Dr. Skondra talks about why she was particularly interested in studying the eye. As she states, it’s a fascinating organ and greatly affects the quality of life. Dr. Skondra provides a thorough overview of the microbiome and eye-specific issues.

She explains issues about the sterility of the eye, discussing what is sterile and what is not. Many microbes exist on the surface of the eye, and Dr. Skondra provides an overview on the various diseases and conditions that impact the surface of the eye.

Continuing, Dr. Skondra talks about genetic mutations and genetic risks for macular degeneration. As she explains, lifestyle and diet can increase risk factors. She cites examples from her work as a postdoc, and details some of the information she gathered that indicated high fat diets, especially when combined with genetic predisposition, could accelerate degeneration.

As she states, the microbiota affects disease, but her focus is on how can she and other researchers use that information to help patients? She talks about the promotion of a healthy gut microbiome, and the connections between the gut and the retina.

Her research seeks to understand all these connections and how altering the gut microbiome affects various conditions or risks.

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