What is trachoma
Trachoma is a bacterial infection that affects your eyes. The bacterium that causes trachoma spreads through direct contact with the eyes, eyelids, and nose or throat secretions of infected people.
Trachoma is very contagious and almost always affects both eyes. Signs and symptoms of trachoma begin with mild itching and irritation of your eyes and eyelids and lead to blurred vision and eye pain. Untreated trachoma can lead to blindness.
Trachoma is the leading preventable cause of blindness worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 8 million people worldwide have been visually impaired by trachoma. WHO estimates more than 84 million people need treatment for trachoma, primarily in poor areas of developing countries. In some of the poorest countries in Africa, prevalence among children can reach 40 percent.
If trachoma is treated early, it often may prevent further trachoma complications.
The principal signs and symptoms in the early stages of trachoma include:
Mild itching and irritation of the eyes and eyelids
Discharge from the eyes containing mucus or pus
As the disease progresses, later trachoma symptoms include:
Marked light sensitivity (photophobia)
Trachoma is caused by certain subtypes of Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterium that can also cause the sexually transmitted infection chlamydia.
Trachoma spreads through contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person. Hands, clothing, towels and insects can all be routes for transmission. In the world's developing countries, unclean water supply, and reduced personal and community hygiene allow the bacteria to infect and reinfect eyes of individuals living in endemic areas. Prevention of vision loss requires adequate, prompt treatment, in addition to education and teaching proper hygiene to the parents and children.
Treatments and drugs
Trachoma treatment options depend on the stage of the disease.
In the early stages of trachoma, treatment with antibiotics alone may be enough to eliminate the infection. The two drugs currently in use include a tetracycline eye ointment and oral azithromycin (Zithromax). Although azithromycin appears to be more effective than tetracycline, azithromycin is more expensive. In poor communities, the drug used often depends on which one is available and affordable.
The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend giving antibiotics to an entire community when more than 10 percent of children have been affected by trachoma, to treat anyone who has been exposed to trachoma and reduce the spread of…