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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Identifying eye infections using microfluidics


Corneal infection diseases are the leading causes of blindness world-wide. Rapid identification of these infections during treatment ensures the most appropriate antibiotic is prescribed, preventing indiscriminate use of antibiotics, better vision and lower bacterial resistance.

'Microbial Pathogen Detection in Ocular Infection Using Microfluidic Impedance Flow Cytometry (MIFC)' is a 4 month project funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) via NAMRIP Pump Priming.

This research project brings together teams from Electronics and Computer Science and the Faculty of Medicine. The Electronics and Computer Science team have a prototype microfluidic (MIFC) device that identifies different cell types. This platform has the potential to detect and distinguish a variety of microbial pathogens using only small volumes of biological fluids, without the need for dedicated laboratory facilities for its operation. It has the potential to allow diagnostic assessment at the patient bedside. The Faculty of Medicine have established a model of human corneal infection using a variety of live pathogens. These teams are collaborating for the first time. Preliminary data shows that MIFC can detect and discriminate different bacterial species in infected human eye tissue and determine infected human cells from non-infected cells, with the capability for rapid pathogen detection of a range of bacterial species in infected human samples.

Future research

The project has now developed in Global-NAMRIP into a collaboration with Lighthouse, Kenya where the device will be tested on ophthalmic patients with eye infections. A visit by the Kenyan clinical group to observe the device in Southampton is being planned for early 2017. The team are also collaborating with the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.

Project Team:


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