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Trachoma: The world's leading cause of blindness


1st Jan 2015 Health Conditions

Trachoma: The world's leading cause of blindness

Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness, although it hasn’t been given the same funding and attention as other global diseases.

Let's Prevent Trachoma 

According to the International Coalition for Trachoma Control, an estimated 4.6 million have advanced trachoma (called trichiasis) and are at immediate risk of going blind.

Although common in Britain around the 19th century, trachoma is now mostly found in hot, dry and dusty countries, affecting those who don’t have good access to clean water with which to wash their faces. It’s caused by a repeated eye infection—each time the infection strikes, the underside of the eyelids become inflamed, and with repeated infection over a number of years they start to invert, turning them into the eyes. The eyelashes scratch the eye with every blink, which feels as if there’s always some grit in the eye.

These scratches damage the cornea and—if left untreated—the eye will be so badly scratched the sufferer will eventually go blind due to the opaque scars that form on the cornea. The disease is highly infectious, passed on from person to person via hands, clothes and even flies.

The charity Sightsavers is aiming to eliminate blindness arising from trachoma from the countries it works in by 2020, using the World Health Organisation’s SAFE strategy (which stands for Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental hygiene). To find out more about this and to make a donation, visit sightsavers.org. To add your name to the Sightsavers’ Put Us in the Picture campaign, which calls on the UK government to ensure that people with disabilities are included in conversations around international development, go to sightsavers.org/our_campaign

Carter Center have made this informative video about the horrors of Trachoma: