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Sightsavers Reports

The pain of trachoma could have cost Abdu his sight

October 2018
Abdu stands in his house.

Abdu, from Sokoto in northwest Nigeria, is a smart 13-year-old with an ambitious nature.

“When I am older, I want to be a businessman,” he tells us. But he also suffers from trachoma – an agonising disease that has plagued his eyes for the past five years.

Abdu’s mother, Amina, says his eyes cause him tremendous pain. “It itches. It gives him headaches, fevers – even his ears are affected,” she explains. “When it is intense, he often can’t do anything. It’s causing a lot of problems to Abdu’s personality.”

Trachoma is a bacterial infection that leads to scar tissue building up inside the eyelids, causing the lashes to grow inwards so they agonisingly scrape the eye’s surface. If it’s not diagnosed and treated quickly enough, it can eventually lead to blindness.

“I go to Qur’anic school, but my eyes disturb me in lessons,” Abdu explains. “I am not happy with it. I don’t feel at ease – I wish the pain would stop.”

A Sightsavers supported doctor examines Abdu's eyes

If trachoma is treated in time, it can be cured

Fortunately for Abdu, a Sightsavers-supported programme has been set up in Sokoto to raise awareness about trachoma, distribute treatment and train staff. Thanks to the programme, he was examined and diagnosed with trachoma.

If the disease is treated before it gets too severe, it can be cured. Antibiotics can be distributed to everyone living in affected areas to treat the disease and prevent infection. Alternatively, an ointment will be provided instead, as is the case with younger people like Abdu.

Amina assures us that she’ll apply Abdu’s treatment carefully. “We will make sure we follow the instructions and hope he will improve,” she says. “Once he is treated, he will be a settled man and lead a happy life.”

There are still 157 million people worldwide who are at risk of going blind from trachoma. But with your help, we’re aiming to eliminate this horrific disease by 2025. By visiting more rural villages like Abdu’s and providing local people with the treatment they need, we can eliminate trachoma for good.

“Once he is treated, he will be a settled man and lead a happy life.”
Amina, Abdu’s mother

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