What is blinding trachoma?

Blinding trachoma is a disease caused by a contagious bacterial infection of the eye. It is commonly spread through contact with contaminated hands or clothing and by flies coming into contact with a person’s eyes or nose.

Blinding trachoma often begins in early childhood and progresses over the years due to episodes of reinfection, causing inflammation and scarring of the inner eyelid. In some people, repeated infection damages the eyelids, causing the eyelashes to turn inwards and to painfully rub against the eye’s surface (a condition known as trichiasis).

If left untreated, a series of complications can lead to irreversible blindness. Blinding trachoma is directly linked to poverty; communities without access to clean water or effective sanitation are the most vulnerable. The disease has a devastating impact on livelihoods, as it limits access to education and prevents individuals from being able to work or care for themselves or their families.

People affected by blinding trachoma

177 million people live in areas endemic for blinding trachoma in 2018 89.1 million people received antibiotics for blinding trachoma in 2018 44 countries are endemic for blinding trachoma in 2019

WHO NTD roadmap targets for blinding trachoma

The World Health Organization’s roadmap on NTDs set out a comprehensive plan for the control, elimination and eradication of various neglected tropical diseases by 2020, including blinding trachoma.

Blinding trachoma target: Global elimination as a public health problem by 2020

Countries that have eliminated blinding trachoma

Eight countries have eliminated blinding trachoma since 2012:

  • Oman (2012)
  • Morocco (2016)
  • Mexico (2017)
  • Cambodia (2017)
  • Laos (2017)
  • Nepal (2018)
  • Ghana (2018)
  • Iran (2018)

Geographic coverage for people treated with antibiotics for blinding trachoma

People treated with antibiotics for blinding trachoma out of population living in known endemic areas that warrant treatment with antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement for elimination of blinding trachoma as a public health problem.

People receiving preventive chemotherapy for blinding trachoma

Since the London Declaration was signed in 2012 and partners committed to defeating neglected tropical diseases, the number of people receiving preventive chemotherapy for blinding trachoma has increased considerably.

Sources

  • Data is provided by the World Health Organization
  • Photo: © Sightsavers / Tom Saater