Trachoma is an eye infection that can be spread by flies and unhealthy living conditions. This infection is the main reason many citizens worldwide go blind and who live in congested rural areas. Trachoma can be traced back to the Egyptian era.
Like conjunctivitis, Trachoma is a contagious bacterial infection that is treatable if caught early. Trachoma affects both eyes causing symptoms like itching, burning, an annoying discharge, swelling and sensitivity to sunlight.
In rural areas where Trachoma is extremely active, the infection thrives among preschool children who pass on the inflammation among each other. The Trachoma infection lessens as people age. Women in Asian and African areas are 2 to 3 times more likely to be blinded than men.
However, if left untreated Trachoma can cause scarring to the eyelids which grow inward into the eye causing pain and blindness. Trachoma is so painful to people in rural African towns and villages that they pluck out their eyelashes to keep from blinking causing irritation to the cornea.
Sightsavers is an organization which is leading the efforts in Africa, Asia, and around the world to stop the spread of Trachoma with partners like the World Health Organization and the International Coalition for Trachoma Control.
Sightsavers has helped to form a new health strategy to combat Trachoma and its blinding symptoms. The strategy is called ‘SAFE’ which stands for:
- S is for surgery
- A is for antibiotics
- F is for facial cleanliness
- E is for environment
Field teams sponsored by Sightsavers conducts visits to rural areas to dispense medications, to teach the citizens about cleanliness, how to keep flies away by keeping trash and feces away from living areas and helping to find fresh water sources.
Sightsavers is working in more than 30 countries around the world on various projects like combating blindness, fighting various diseases, equipping medical field professionals with transportation, probiotic dispersion, and equipment to help citizens.
As a neglected tropical disease, Sightsavers works with local governments to help train ophthalmologists to treat patients and performing mobile surgeries. Sightsavers believes it is possible to eradicate this infection by year 2020.
In 2012 the country of Oman was the first country to successfully eliminate the Trachoma infection, then in subsequent years, Morocco, Mexico, Laos, and Cambodia, followed with their defeat of Trachoma. Ghana is close in their efforts to eliminate the Trachoma infection by diligently working with Sightsavers and other healthcare organizations.