Trachoma is the most common infectious cause of blindness. Repeated episodes of infection with Chlamydia trachomatis in childhood lead to severe conjunctival inflammation, scarring, and potentially blinding inturned eyelashes (trichiasis or entropion) in later life. Trachoma occurs in resource-poor areas with inadequate hygiene, where children with unclean faces share infected ocular secretions. Much has been learnt about the epidemiology and pathophysiology of trachoma. Integrated control programmes are implementing the SAFE Strategy: surgery for trichiasis, mass distribution of antibiotics, promotion of facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement. This strategy has successfully eliminated trachoma in several countries and global efforts are underway to eliminate blinding trachoma worldwide by 2020.
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