Trachoma

Trachoma is an infectious disease that affects the vision and is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. The route of transmission is via direct contact, flies that have been in contact with an infected person, or sharing clothes. The consequence of trachoma is irreversible blindness - the leading cause of blindness of infectious disease.

About 8 million people’s vision has been impacted worldwide and about 500 million people are at risk. This disease is prevalent in marginalized areas where there is insufficient water, hygiene, and healthcare access. Africa is the most affected area, along with Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and Central and South America.

So far, 13 countries have attained eradicating the disease but trachoma is still a current public health issue due to the ongoing incidence of vision impairment.

What does a person manifest upon contracting the disease?

When a person encounters trachoma, firstly the conjunctiva will display inflammatory changes. After repeated infections, there is severe scarring inside the eyelid which causes the eyelashes to rub the cornea. Subsequently, this leads to pain, cornea damage, and vision loss.

After contracting the disease the first time, it is necessary not to overlook it and seek immediate healthcare attention.

Trachoma is common in children but the impairment of the eye begins between the ages of 30 and 40 years. Women are more likely to lose vision than men.

The current treatment and preventive measures

Trachoma can be prevented by carrying out basic public health measures such as utilizing clean water, hygiene, and avoiding high-risk areas. The present strategy employed by WHO is known as SAFE.

  • Surgery to treat the advanced stage of the disease
  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Facial cleanliness
  • Environmental improvements such as having better access to water and sanitation

How can Audiopedia be of any benefit?

Since trachoma mainly impacts children and displays vision impairment later in life, it is crucial to educate vulnerable communities about essential preventive health measures during the early stage. Audiopedia can help translate and explain trachoma to people in their mother tongue. This would result in a decreased incidence of the disease and visual impairment. Not only children, but women who are more likely to have vision loss will also gain knowledge and become less impacted by the visual symptoms. Early education will result in early prevention leading to less morbidity.

Further reading:
WHO. Trachoma. 2022. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/trachoma
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hygiene-related Diseases. 2021. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/disease/trachoma.html

Neha Ramjuttun

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Medical Advisor Audiopedia, Master in Public Health (MPH), MBBS