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Diseases » Trachoma » Wikipedia

Trachoma in Wikipedia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Trachoma". (Source - Retrieved 2006-09-07 14:23:05 from


Trachoma (Ancient Greek: "rough eye") is a highly contagious eye disease which may result in blindness. It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and it is spread by direct contact with eye, nose, and throat secretions from affected individuals, or contact with objects, such as towels and/or washcloths, that have had similar contact with these secretions. The bacteria has an incubation period of 5 to 12 days, after which the affected individual experiences symptoms of conjunctivitis, or irritation similar to "pink eye."

Further symptoms include:
- Eye discharge
- Swollen eyelids
- Turned-in eyelashes
- Swelling of lymph nodes in front of the ears
- Corneal scarring

If not treated properly with oral antibiotics, the symptoms may escalate and cause blindness, which is the result of ulceration and consequent scarring of the cornea. Surgery may also be necessary to fix eyelid deformities.

The disease is one of the earliest recorded eye afflictions, having been identified as early as 27 B.C. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and currently afflicts over 400 million people, most of whom live primarily in underdeveloped and poverty-stricken countries in Africa, the Middle-East, and Asia. Rare in the United States, the disease can be treated with antibiotics and prevented with adequate hygiene and education. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "No national or international surveillance [for trachoma] exists. Blindness due to trachoma has been eliminated from the United States. The last cases were found among American Indian populations and in Appalachia."[1]

In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act designating funds for the eradication of the disease, according to an article in Surv Ophthalmol. 2002 Sep-Oct;47(5):500-9. [2]

By the late 1930s, a number of ophthalmologists reported success in treating trachoma with sulfonamide antibiotics$[1]$. In 1948, Vincent Tabone (who was later to become the President of Malta) was entrusted with the supervision of a campaign to treat trachoma using sulfonamide tablets and drops. $[2]$


  1. Thygeson P. "The Treatment of Trachoma with Sulfanilamide: A Report of 28 Cases." Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 1939;37:395-403. PMID 16693194.
  2. Ophthalmology in Malta, C. Savona Ventura, University of Malta, 2003

See also

  • Keratoconjunctivitis

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