Short-sightedness in Sight-saving: Half a Strategy Will Not Eliminate Blinding Trachoma

Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Few diseases are more closely linked to the environment than trachoma – the leading global cause of preventable blindness. An estimated 40 million people are infected with Chlaymdia trachomatis, of whom 8.2 million have trachomatous trichiasis, the blinding stage of the disease. Infections are transmitted between people through ocular secretions and by eye-seeking flies that breed in human faeces.

There is no vaccine for trachoma, but antibiotics reduce the pathogen load in hosts and shorten the infectious period; while surgery reverses the in-turning of eyelashes that causes corneal trauma and eventual blindness. However, treated individuals can be reinfected, especially in unhygienic environments.

We challenge the tactic of using surgery and antibiotics as the means for the elimination of blinding trachoma in the absence of adequate environmental measures.

Short-sightedness in Sight-saving: Half a Strategy Will Not Eliminate Blinding Trachoma. M. A. Montgomery, J. Bartram. 2010. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 88:2, pp. 82. doi.org/10.2471/BLT.09.075424.