Trachoma is an infectious eye disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which spreads by contact with an infected person’s hands or clothing. It is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness, and is one of the oldest diseases known to man.Transmission is mostly between children and the women who care for them this accounts for the higher prevalence in women. Blindness does not ensue until middle age: repeated episodes of infection cause chronic follicular conjunctival inflammation leading on to the cicatricial stage of tarsal conjunctival scarring, entropion, trichiasis.
The main treatment for active trachoma, caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, is the antibiotic azithromycin. Mass treatment became economically feasible only in 1998 when the International Trachoma Initiative began making substantial quantities of azithromycin available at no cost. "We now had a single-dose antibiotic, which provided the impetus to fight this disease," recalls Dr. Sheila K. West, NEI grantee and professor at Johns Hopkins University.A number of different antibiotics have anti-chlamydial activity and have been used for treatment of trachoma. Currently, the most commonly used options are tetracycline eye ointment applied twice a day for 6 weeks or a single oral dose of azithromycin.