Trachoma is an eye infection, and claimed to be the world’s most common cause of blindness. Indeed, it’s estimated that around 500 million people throughout the world suffer from it. It’s extremely common in developing Third World countries where it is a common cause of permanent visual loss.
It is claimed that trachoma is the most common human disease of any kind, with an estimated 500 million people suffering from it throughout the world. Without treatment, it will lead to blindness. It mainly affects populations in Third World countries and is uncommon in Western civilisations. China, India, and countries bordering the Mediterranean such as Egypt, have great numbers of trachoma victims. The disease always affects both eyes.
Mild itching and irritation are the chief symptoms. If the process continues, it will lead to blurring of vision and increasing discomfort. However, many harbour the disease for a lifetime without too much misery, unless secondary bacterial infection sets in.
If left untreated, the disease usually progresses until swelling of the lids (usually the upper ones) and scarring take place. If scarring of the conjunctiva and cornea occurs, reduced vision results.
The eye becomes irritable and itchy, so there is a tendency to scratch it and make it worse. Often other germs then invade the eye and aggravate the condition. Sometimes there is scarring of the lids. If this extends to the cornea, the clear window of the eye, permanent visual loss may take place.
A germ with the strange name of chlamydia is the usual culprit. It has a special liking for eyes, and parents often pass it on to their babies and children due to poor hygiene. The infected persons may then have it for the remainder of their lives, which could be a long time if you are still a child.
It is caused by a germ called the chlamydiae, which has a special affinity for the eye. It is spread by direct contact, and parents commonly infect their children, who may then suffer from the disease for life.
Once the condition is diagnosed, treatment is very effective. The doctor will order a drug from the tetracycline group to be taken orally for three to five weeks, and this will effect a cure if given early enough. Hygiene is very important to prevent spread of infection to others. If scarring of the cornea has taken place, corneal transplant surgery may restore vision. Plastic surgery may be used for other lid deformities.
A tremendous amount of good may accrue from simple therapy. The organism responds dramatically to the simple broad-spectrum antibiotics that are readily available in our country. Within a few weeks a cure may have been effected. However, this will not turn back the clock and undo the permanent damage that has taken place.
For damaged corneas, transplants may bring back good vision. Cosmetic surgery to the lids will give a greatly improved appearance. Careful attention to eye hygiene thereafter is essential to prevent recurrences. The outlook can be dramatically improved.