Trachoma is a chronic form of conjunctivitis that slowly gets worse. It may last for months or many years. If not treated early, it sometimes causes blindness. It is spread by touch or by flies and also is most common where people live in poor and crowded conditions.
- Trachoma begins with red, watery eyes like ordinary conjunctivitis.
- After a month or more, small, pinkish gray lumps, called follicles form inside the upper lids. To see this, turn the back of the lid.
- The white part of the eyes is mildly inflamed.
- If you look very carefully or with a magnifying glass, you may see that the top edge of the cornea looks grayish because it has many tiny new blood vessels in it (pannus).
- The combination of both follicles and pannus is almost certainly trachoma.
- After several years, the follicles begin to disappear, leaving the whitish scars.
- These scars make the eyelids thick and may keep them from opening or closing all the way.
- Or the scarring may pull the eyelashes down into the eyes, scratching the cornea and causing blindness.
Early and complete treatment of trachoma helps prevent its spread to others. All persons living with someone who has trachoma especially children should have their eyes examined often and if symptoms appear, they should be treated early. Also, it is very important to follow the guidelines of cleanliness.
Put 1% tetracycline eye ointment inside the eyes 3 times a day for a month. For a complete cure, also take tetracycline or a sulfonamide by mouth for 2 to 3 weeks.