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Lancet. 2008 Jun 7;371(9628):1945-54. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60836-3.


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  • 1Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, WHO Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness, East Melbourne, VIC, Australia.


Trachoma is a keratoconjunctivitis caused by ocular infection with Chlamydia trachomatis. Repeated or persistent episodes lead to increasingly severe inflammation that can progress to scarring of the upper tarsal conjunctiva. Trichiasis develops when scarring distorts the upper eyelid sufficiently to cause one or more lashes to abrade the cornea, scarring it in turn and causing blindness. Active trachoma affects an estimated 84 million people; another 7.6 million have end-stage disease, of which about 1.3 million are blind. Trachoma should stand on the brink of extinction thanks to a 1998 initiative launched by WHO--the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020. This programme advocates control of trachoma at the community level with four inter-related population-health initiatives that form the SAFE strategy: surgery for trichiasis, antibiotics for active trachoma, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement. Evidence supports the effectiveness of this approach, and if current world efforts continue, blinding trachoma will indeed be eliminated by 2020.

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