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Good Prevention and Treatment Efforts Eliminate Trachoma


Trachoma is caused by a Chlamydia trachomatis infection of the eye. It affects more than 80 million individuals worldwide. An estimated 8 million persons are blind because of this eye infection. In the United States, blindness from trachoma has eliminated due to good preventive and treatment efforts.

Trachoma can spread from person to person. It occurs in children as well as adults in all parts of the world. Women are much more likely than men to develop trachoma or become blind from trachoma. Sanitation and water shortages in developing countries contribute to the problem.

In developing countries, the infection often begins during infancy or childhood and becomes chronic. If the infection is not treated, the inflammation of the conjunctiva (lining of the eye surface) causes irritation and scarring. This in turn pulls the eyelashes against the surface of the eye. The in-turned eyelashes scratch the eye’s surface which may lead to more infection and scarring which can lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Trachoma

* Eye redness
* Purulent (pus) drainage from the eye
* Eye irritation or pain
* Poor vision or visual loss
* Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
* Inverted (turned under) eyelashes (trichiasis) or eyelids (entropion)

Treatment and Prevention of Trachoma

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Antibiotics, in oral form or in eye ointment, can be used to treat trachoma. Preventing trachoma in larger populations can also be done by administering antibiotics to persons who do not yet show active signs of the disease.

Surgical treatment may be necessary to correct the inversion of eyelashes caused by scarring. Permanent eye damage can occur from irritation and inflammation and can be made worse by eyelid inversion.

Improved sanitation, better water supplies, and more hygienic living conditions all may help to reduce trachoma and its main complication, blindness.

Eye products, including cosmetics, ointments, or contact lenses, should never be shared.

Eye infections should be treated promptly. If you have any of the above symptoms, please, seek medical attention.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Lighthouse International

Written by Ramona Bates, MD
Little Rock, Arkansas
Exclusive to eMaxHealth