Patient Education - Trachoma
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Trachoma

Trachoma is a bacterial infection of the eye.
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Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Trachoma is caused by infection with the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.
The condition occurs worldwide, mostly in rural settings in developing countries. It frequently affects children, although the effects of scarring may not be seen until later in life. Trachoma is spread through direct contact with infected eye, nose, or throat secretions or by contact with contaminated objects, such as towels or clothes. Flies play important role in spreading the bacteria.

Symptoms

Symptoms begin 5 to 12 days after being exposed to the bacteria. The condition begins slowly as inflammation of the tissue lining the eyelids (conjunctivitis, or "pink eye"), which if untreated may lead to scarring.
Symptoms may include:
• Cloudy cornea
• Discharge from the eye
• Swollen eyelids
• Turned-in eyelashes

Signs and tests

An eye exam may reveal scarring on the inside of the upper eye lid, redness of the white part of the eyes, and new blood vessel growth into the cornea.
Treatment
Antibiotics can prevent long-term complications if used early in the infection. Antibiotics include erythromycin and doxycycline. In certain cases, eyelid surgery may be needed to prevent long-term scarring, which can lead to blindness if not corrected.

Complications

If the eyelids are severely irritated, the eyelashes may turn in and rub against the cornea. This can cause eye ulcers, additional scars, vision loss, and possibly, blindness.

Prevention

The following simple measures play important role in controlling the transmission of trachoma and preventing blindness from trachoma:
Personal hygiene like face and hand washing
Environmental hygiene including the use of proper latrines
The proper use of cheap antibiotics like tetracycline
Simple eyelid surgery to correct misaligned eyelashes which rub on the cornea and cause blindness