Trachoma

  • Medical Author:
    Frank J. Weinstock, MD, FACS

    Dr. Weinstock is a board-certified ophthalmologist. He practices general ophthalmology in Canton, Ohio, with a special interest in contact lenses. He holds faculty positions of Professor of Ophthalmology at the Northeastern Ohio Colleges of Medicine and Affiliate Clinical Professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science at Florida Atlantic University.

  • Medical Editor: Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

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How long does trachoma last?

Many individuals who have trachoma infection of the eyes will have it only once and scarring will not necessarily occur. However infections may reoccur until proper diagnosis is made and treatment is instituted.

Can trachoma be prevented?

Blindness from trachoma is essentially totally preventable at relatively low cost. This can be accomplished by teaching sanitation, especially cleanliness of the face, and treating all infected individuals within a heavily infected community with oral antibiotics or antibiotic eye ointment early in the disease process. Many countries have eradicated trachoma using these steps.

What is the prognosis for trachoma?

If diagnosed early, before scarring of the cornea, the prognosis is excellent.

There is an International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) dedicated to eliminating trachoma by following the World Health Organization (WHO) SAFE strategy. It is partnering with governmental and private organizations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If successful, trachoma may become a disease of the past in two generations; 15 countries are targeted for elimination of trachoma by 2020.

What are complications of trachoma?

Trachoma causes irritation of the eye, starting with simple redness of the eye and lids, progressing to inward turning of the lids and irritation and scarring of the cornea, which may then progress to an opaque cornea resulting in blindness. These complications are avoidable with adequate diagnosis and treatment.

With development of the later stages of trachoma with scarring of the lids and conjunctiva, vision is often decreased to the point where the individual is no longer able to work, resulting in disruption of the family. Children drop out of school to take care of a parent with blindness and the family may have severe economic problems.

Because of profound visual disturbance or blindness, there may be an increased number of related injuries or even accidental death.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/11/2015
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