Trachoma - Treatment

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What is the treatment for trachoma?

The treatment is relatively simple. A single oral dose of antibiotic is the preferred treatment, plus making safe water available and teaching simple cleanliness. Because of cultural differences and widespread poverty in endemic areas, this regimen is difficult to implement on a universal scale.

The World Health Organization (WHO) developed the SAFE strategy.

  • S = surgical care
  • A = antibiotics
  • F = facial cleanliness
  • E = environmental improvement

Treatment involves screening communities for the presence of trachoma in children 1-9 years of age. When over 10 % are found to have clinical disease, the entire community is treated with antibiotics. In areas with less disease, only targeted groups are treated.

Due to the contagiousness of trachoma, it is necessary to treat all who might be in contact with the infected individuals.

The actual treatment is the onetime use of use of azithromycin (Zithromax) pills (currently the treatment of choice) or the topical use of 1% tetracycline (Achromycin) ointment.

When trachoma has progressed to inward-turning of the lashes, surgery is necessary to correct this and prevent the lashes from scarring the cornea. Performance of this surgery can be taught to nurses or other medical personnel.

If significant corneal scarring already exists, corneal transplantation surgery may be required, which should be performed by an ophthalmologist.

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