Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness of infectious origin. Caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, trachoma is easily spread through direct personal contact, shared towels and cloths, and flies that have come in contact with the eyes or nose of an infected person.Infection causes inflammation, that is, a predominantly lymphocytic and monocytic infiltrate with plasma cells and macrophages in follicles. The follicles are typical germinal centers with islands of intense B-cell proliferation surrounded by seas of T cells. Recurrent conjunctival reinfection causes the prolonged inflammation that leads to conjunctival scarring.
Eyelid surgery to correct trichiasis is important in people with trichiasis, who are at high-risk for trachomatous visual impairment and blindness. Eyelid surgery to correct entropion and/or trichiasis may prevent blindness in individuals at immediate risk.After years of targeted funding and research, trachoma has been wiped out in some regions and the WHO aims to vanquish it in remaining places by 2020. (Learn more in the related article about blindness from trachoma and trichiasis.) Research funded by the NIH's National Eye Institute (NEI) is playing a crucial role by identifying effective antibiotic regimens to combat the scourge. These include determining how often to administer treatment, what portion of a community must be reached and how to prevent re-infection.