PURPOSE. The World Health Organization recommends trichiasis surgery to prevent blindness caused by trachoma; however, recurrence is common. Risk factors for recurrence have not been widely studied, particularly in trachoma hyperendemic areas. METHODS. Three hundred ninety-four persons with trichiasis in Tanzania were examined. Participants had undergone surgery >18 months before the study. Trichiasis recurrence and active trachoma at study visit were assessed. Ocular swabs were collected and tested for Chlamydia trachomatis. Household members were examined for active trachoma. RESULTS. Of the surgical eyes, 28% had recurrence; 40% of patients had recurrence in one or both eyes. Rates did not vary by time since surgery. Eye-level recurrence rates varied significantly across districts, ranging from 16% to 38%. Current chlamydial infection among surgical cases was low (6%) and was not associated with recurrence. Recurrence was associated with tarsal conjunctival inflammation (OR: 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.6-3.8) and residence in the Kongwa district (OR: 2.3; 95% CI: 1.2-4.6). CONCLUSIONS. Recurrence after trichiasis surgery is high, suggesting that vigilant follow-up in surgical cases is needed to reduce blindness. Recurrence is associated with evidence of inflammation in the tarsal conjunctiva, although it is not clear whether the inflammation contributes to recurrence, or is a result of the recurrence. Longitudinal studies of trichiasis patients after surgery are needed.
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