Trachoma is a blinding disease caused by particular strains of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Infection is spread from eye to eye by transfer of infected ocular and nasal secretions, carried on flies, fingers and fomites, such as bed sheets, clothing or towels. Conjunctival infection with C. trachomatis is associated with inflammatory changes of the conjunctiva known as “active trachoma”.

Repeated episodes of active trachoma can result in scarring of the eyelid, which in some individuals leads to trichiasis. In this condition, one or more eyelashes are pulled inwards to touch the eye. This is extremely painful and—if left untreated—may lead to corneal opacification, visual impairment, and irreversible blindness.

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