Sightsavers stories

Our sights are set on eliminating trachoma in Kenya

Lanoi stands outside and smiles with her hands on top of her head. She looks off to the right.

Thanks to our eye health workers, volunteers and supporters, Kenya is one step closer to eliminating trachoma.

Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. When caught early, it is straightforward to treat. However, without treatment, it can develop into advanced trachoma (known as trichiasis), which can lead to blindness.

Five of the countries where Sightsavers works have already eliminated the disease, freeing countless communities from the pain and suffering it can cause. Kenya could become one of the next countries to join them.

A hand holds a few pink antibiotics. The other hand holds a mug of water.

Since our work in Kenya began, we’ve given out medication on a large scale to treat children and adults with trachoma and protect whole communities. Antibiotics treat the trachoma infection and help stop the disease spreading.

Dr Maurice Abony, a surgeon and Sightsavers’ programme manager for trachoma in Kenya, and Joel, a community health volunteer, are working tirelessly towards eliminating trachoma in the country.

Along with his fellow surgeons, Dr Abony has performed many operations to treat patients with advanced trachoma. Joel and other incredible volunteers work beside them, giving out antibiotics, identifying people who need surgery and explaining the importance of hand and face washing to prevent the spread of trachoma.

Through their efforts, communities can be freed from this devastating disease.

Dr Abony smiles for a photo wearing scrubs.

“I love my job: it gives me a lot of emotional satisfaction.”

Dr Abony smiles for a photo wearing scrubs.

Dr Maurice Abony

Before our team found four-year-old Lanoi, she was suffering from trachoma, like many other people in her village. Her eyes were sore, and she was in a lot of pain – it was difficult for her to fully enjoy her childhood. Her mother, Mesikana, tried to help by washing Lanoi’s face with clean water, but the infection didn’t go away. She desperately needed help.

Fortunately, community health volunteer Joel visited Lanoi’s village, where he examined everyone’s eyes. He identified that Lanoi had trachoma, a diagnosis confirmed by Dr Abony.

Joel then used a dose pole to determine the correct dose of medication for each patient, and handed out antibiotics.

Dr Abony also told families about the importance of hand and face washing, as well as the need to continue treatment to properly prevent trachoma from spreading and returning to their community.

Lanoi stands outside with two people standing behind her. She takes medicine from a small cup.

Lanoi was measured using a dose pole, which checked her height to calculate the correct dose of medication.

Lanoi stands outside with two people standing behind her. She takes medicine from a small cup.

A few days after their visit, Lanoi’s infection was gone. Her eyes were no longer sore but instead bright and clear. Now she’s able to smile, play and enjoy being a child without being in pain. Her whole family and their community are also better informed about trachoma, which will help stop the disease from spreading.

Following Dr Abony and Joel’s visit, Lanoi’s uncle, Sayianka, explained the importance of medication and hygiene to prevent trachoma. “I will advise other parents whose children have similar conditions that they need to make sure they clean their children’s eyes and get the right medication.”

Dr Maurice Abony left Sightsavers in 2022.

Lanoi (right), with her mum, Mesikana (standing), little sister, Teresian, and uncle, Sayianka, outside their home.

“You can think it’s a small eye problem, but if you neglect it, it can lead to blindness.”

Lanoi (right), with her mum, Mesikana (standing), little sister, Teresian, and uncle, Sayianka, outside their home.

Lanoi’s uncle Sayianka

Learn more about our work across Africa and Asia

Sightsavers and eye health