Trachoma – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments that many are unaware of. In addition, Trachoma is an infectious disease that can cause swelling of the outermost covering of the eye called the conjunctiva, pain, and itchy discharge from the eyes .
It spreads through touch, wearing ordinary clothing, door buttons worn by the affected person, flies and pets can be a cause of mechanical spread. Poor personal hygiene and lack of toilets and latrines are the cause of this blind disease if left untreated. It is the world’s most common cause of infectious eye diseases that lead to blindness.
What is Trachoma: Trachoma is one ofthe oldest diseases of mankind and has occurred in many parts of the world including the United States and Europe as recently as the 20th century. With advances in treatment and improvements in hygiene conditions, many countries have managed to eradicate Trachoma , but it remains a serious health concern in nearly 42 countries worldwide.
How Trachoma is Caused: Trachoma is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacteria found in the discharge from the eyes and nose of infected individuals. The infection is contagious and spreads from person to person through shared hands, clothing, or bedding. It can also be spread by flies that have been in contact with infected discharge.
In areas where the disease is endemic, it usually affects preschool children, and the infection spreads from one child to another in the family environment, often in super-binding and poor hygiene conditions.
What are the Risk Factors for Catching Trachoma:
- The following are the risk factors for Trachoma infection :
- Poor hygiene – unclean hands and faces increase the risk of spreading trachoma
- Poverty – The disease is endemic in developing countries among the very poor due to overcrowded and unhygienic living conditions, not to mention the
- Lack of sanitation – Lack of toilets increases the incidence of the disease
- Gender – In many populations, women are more susceptible, possibly because they are the primary caregivers of affected children
- Age – The disease is most common in children between the ages of 4-6 years
- Flies – In places where there are many flies, the risk of transmission is much higher
What are the Symptoms and Signs of Trachoma: After infection, symptoms appear within a week or two. Initially, symptoms are mild and include mild irritation and pain in the eyes and eyelids. Repeated attacks or untreated infection ultimately lead to scarring and visual impairment. The symptoms of Trachoma are as follows:
- Mild irritation and itching of the eyelids
- eye pain
- Light sensitivity (photophobia)
- eyelid swelling
- Mucophoric or mucopurulent effect of the eyes
What are the Complications of Trachoma Infection:
- A single Trachoma infection is easily treated with antibiotics. Repeated and recurrent infections, which can occur in highly endemic areas,
- can lead to long-term complications such as the following:
- Thickening of the eyelid and formation of scars on the inner aspect of the eyelid. The upper eyelid is most commonly involved
- Indration of the eyelid (entropion) and ingestion of the eyelashes (triciasis)
- Opacity or cloudiness of the outer layer (cornea) of the eye
- Blindness or visual impairment
- eye dryness
How do you Treat Trachoma: The treatment of Trachoma depends on the stage. In the early stages, the disease is easily treated with antibiotics.
Medications: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends one of two antibiotics for the treatment of trachoma , namely oral azithromycin or the local application of tetracycline as an ointment.
The advantages of azithromycin are that it is given as a single dose under the supervision of health authorities; Therefore, the healthcare professional can be confident that the patient has taken the medication. It is highly effective and has few side effects which can include nausea, vomiting , diarrhea and rash. It is also effective against skin, respiratory or genital Chlamydia trachomatis infections that may be present.
What is the Prognosis of Trachoma: Trachoma is easily treatable with antibiotics, and complications like blindness can be avoided. However, in the poorest population, lack of awareness, poor sanitary conditions and access to health care results in advanced disease with complications that lead to blindness and visual impairment.