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What is Trachoma?

A serious disease of the eyes, endemic throughout Africa, and favoured by poverty, ignorance, overcrowding, poor hygiene and lack of adequate water and sewage facilities. It is very infectious.

The agent is a clamydia (similar to a virus), and the first signs are soreness of the eyes with tears, and later discharge from the eyes. If not treated properly with tetracycline or sulphonamides, the disease may lead to blindness.

If the disorder is not treated at this stage, the conjunctiva, the delicate membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the front of the eye, becomes covered with tiny grey swellings beneath the upper lids. The cornea, the transparent area at the front of the eye beneath the conjunctiva, may thicken. Scarring of the lids, and sometimes of the cornea, takes place. The lids often turn inwards, so that the eyelashes scratch the cornea, making it prone to bacterial infection.

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