What is Trachoma?
This is a bacterial eye infection which is spread by direct or indirect contact with infected individuals, and it can potentially lead to blindness. It affects the conjunctival covering of the eye, the cornea and the eyelids of those living in rural populations. This is especially the case where there is limited access to clean water and health care,numerous flies, and crowded living conditions. It disproportionately impacts women and children.
Where it occurs
Approximately 80 million people in the world suffer from active trachoma with majority of these being children. The disease is found predominantly in poor tropical or semi-tropical countries such as Cameroon.
Trachoma is spread by direct or indirect contact with eye, nose, or throat secretions of infected individuals or by flies/insects carrying those secretions on their legs or body. It is mainly common in younger children (3-5 years of age) who spread it to their siblings, mothers, and playmates.
- The inside of the eyelid may be severely scarred.
- The eyelid turns inward and the lashes rub on the eyeball, scarring the cornea (the front of the eye).
- If untreated, this condition leads to the formation of irreversible corneal opacities and blindness.
Blindness from trachoma can be treated and prevented with a single oral dose of azithromycin. The scaring and visual change to the eyes can be reversed by a simple surgical procedure performed at village level which reverses the inturned eyelashes. Elimination of the disease can be possible through implementation of the World Health Organization approved SAFE strategy;
S = surgical care
A = antibiotics
F = facial cleanliness
E = environmental improvement