A bacterial condition known as trachoma attacks your eyes. Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacteria responsible for it. Trachoma disseminates through contact with an infected person’s eyes, eyelids, or secretions from their nose or throat. Handling contaminated objects, such handkerchiefs, can potentially spread it. It is an eye disorder, the most infectious cause of blindness in the entire world. The culprit is Chlamydia trachomatis, a necessary intracellular bacterium. Infected people can transfer an infection directly or indirectly through their eye and nasal discharges; indirect transmission also includes various kinds of flies that have the infection on their bodies.
Trachoma may initially produce mild eye and eyelid itchiness and irritation. Pus may then start to drain from the eyes and your eyelids may get puffy. Trachoma left untreated can cause blindness.
The most common preventable cause of blindness in the world is trachoma. 85% of those with active disease live in deprived parts of Africa, where trachoma occurrences are most common. Trachoma infection rates among children under 5 might reach 60% or higher in regions where the disease is widespread.
The avoidance of trachoma starts with early treatment.
Similar to conjunctivitis in some ways, trachoma initially manifests as a treatable bacterial infection. If not, the eyelid becomes scarred over time, pulling the eyelashes inward so that they rub up against the eye with each blink. Trichiasis, an advanced form of trachoma, can cause such excruciating pain that many people turn to plucking out their eyelashes in order to stop the misery of blinking. Trichiasis can eventually result in blindness if not treated.
Trachoma continues to be a public health issue in 44 countries and causes an estimated 1.9 million blind or visually impaired persons worldwide. It spreads when bacteria in the secretions from an afflicted person’s eyes reach others through direct contact or eye-seeking flies.
The endemic populations where it is most prevalent often have poor sanitation and limited access to potable water. Infectious diseases are the main global cause of avoidable blindness. Trachoma is a disease that is still active in over 21 million persons worldwide. Children between the ages of 3-6 make up the majority of these. The majority of the disease’s cases are in sub-Saharan Africa, which is located in dry, arid regions near the equator.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that trachoma develops in five stages:
- Follicular inflammation When seen under a magnifying glass, the inner surface of your upper eyelid will reveal five or more follicles, which are tiny bumps containing lymphocytes, a kind of white blood cell, in the early illness (conjunctiva).
- Strong inflammation. The top eyelid may thicken or enlarge at this point, and your eye is now highly contagious and inflamed.
- Scars on the eyelids. The inner eyelid becomes scarred as a result of recurrent infections. When magnified, the scars frequently look as white lines. Your eyelid may slant inward and become deformed (entropion).
- Inverted eyelashes (trichiasis). Your eyelid’s scarred inner lining is still causing your lashes to curl inward, rubbing against the translucent outer surface of your eye and scratching it (cornea).
- Optical clouding (opacity). An inflammation, which is most frequently visible behind your upper lid, starts to harm the cornea. The cornea clouds as a result of persistent inflammation, made worse by scratching from the inward-facing lashes.
CAUSES OF TRACHOMA
Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterium that can also cause the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia, causes trachoma in some subgroups of the population. Through contact with secretions from an infected person’s nose or eyes, trachoma can spread. Transmission can occur through the use of hands, clothing, towels, and insects. Eye-seeking flies are a transmission method for the disease in underdeveloped nations. The disease thrives in areas with inadequate sanitation, a lack of fresh water, and flies infestations.
This happens when recurrent infections with the “chlamydia trachomatis” bacteria, disseminated through contact with infected flies as well as through hands, clothing, or bedding that have come into touch with an affected individual.
The pain and impairment caused by blinding trachoma can create a cycle of poverty that prevents many people from accessing healthcare, education, and work opportunities.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF TRACHOMA
Vision loss, discomfort, light sensitivity, and eye inflammation are among the symptoms. As mentioned in the five phases above, the symptoms include the presence of follicles, redness, scarring, and corneal opacity. Children with active trachoma frequently exhibit no symptoms. Trachoma can exist in kids with clean faces as well. However, young children with active trachoma may have drainage from the nose as well as red, itchy, and sticky eyes.
Infection is particularly prone to affect young children. However, the illness advances gradually, and the more agonizing symptoms could not show up until adulthood.
TREATMENT OF TRACHOMA
The multidimensional SAFE method to prevent and treat trachoma is being used by the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET2020) to totally eradicate the disease:
- S = surgery to treat trichiasis and in-turned eyelids
- A = active infection efficiently treated with antibiotics (azithromycin).
- F = maintaining facial hygiene to lower human transmission
- E = environmental enhancement to lessen human transmission (such as availability to clean water and hygienic practices to control the fly population).
Take note also of these treatments against trachoma
- All patients with active trachoma needs to take at least one dose of oral antibiotic (azithromycin).
- The contacts of the individual being treated are also encouraged to use this antibiotic. Anyone who shares a home with a trachoma patient and/or sleeps there is considered a contact. All members of each household where the person resides or sleeps are taken into account when determining contacts.
- All Aboriginal residents of a community that has a high trachoma rate should receive this antibiotic treatment.
- Annual trichiasis screenings for Aboriginal individuals over 40 should be conducted in areas where trachoma is common (endemic).
- Trichiasis has to be checked in adults who report having a sore eye. For individuals with trichiasis, health services must guarantee prompt diagnosis and referral to an eye surgeon.
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