The most common signs that a person is suffering from trachoma include:
Because the infection spreads via hands, clothes and bedding, it disproportionately affects women and children: globally women are 1.8 times more likely than men to be blinded by the disease. If trachoma is not treated, it can lead to trichiasis.
Trichiasis, sometimes called advanced trachoma, is when the eyes get inflamed after repeated trachoma infections. Scar tissue builds up on the inside of the eyelid, making the eyelid tight and pulling the eyelashes inwards. When the eyelashes rub the cornea, it causes immense pain and can lead to blindness.
In September 2022, Malawi became the first country in southern Africa to eliminate the disease. Yet there are still more than 40 countries that count trachoma as a public health problem, where people are at risk of being blinded by trichiasis.
We help to control the impact and spread of trachoma by implementing the World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy: the acronym describes the four methods used to control the disease.