Trachoma results from bacterial infection of the conjunctiva by Chlamydia Trachomatis. Repeated infections of the conjunctivae with Chlamydia trachomatis can lead to trichiasis, corneal opacity and blindness.
It prevails in impoverished communities where hygiene is inadequate. Infection occurs primarily among younger children and is transmitted from person to person mainly through contact and sometimes by eye-seeking flies.
An estimated 325 million people live in at-risk areas. Trachoma blinds one person every 15 minutes.
Treatment and successes
There is a prevention and treatment strategy: the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy that brings Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement to communities where trachoma is found. To implement SAFE, national governments and non-governmental organizations are uniting like never before.
Trends and challenges
Delayed action is costly. Vision loss or blindness leads to loss of social status, stigmatization and reclusion from society. Conservative estimates suggest trachoma causes $3-$6 billion in lost productivity each year. With the global community using a strategic plan to focus time, attention and funding, the elimination of trachoma is a possibility.