(redirected from Tracoma)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.




Trachoma, which is also called granular conjunctivitis or Egyptian ophthalmia, is a contagious, chronic inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eyes, caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. It ischaracterized by swelling of the eyelids, sensitivity to light, and eventual scarring of the conjunctivae and corneas of the eyes.


Trachoma is a major cause of blindness in the world. It is found in the Far East, as well as countries with desert climates. In the United States, it is most common among certain Native Americans and in parts of Appalachia. The infection is highly contagious in its early stages. Blindness results from recurrent untreated infections.
The conjunctiva is the clear mucous membrane that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part (sclera) of the eye. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva.

Causes and symptoms

Trachoma is caused by C. trachomatis, a parasitic organism closely related to bacteria. It is transmitted by insects, by hand-to-eye contact, or by the sharing of infected handkerchiefs or towels. The incubation period is about a week.
The early symptoms of trachoma include the development of follicles (small sacs) on the conjunctivae of the upper eyelids, pain, swollen eyelids, a discharge, tearing, and sensitivity to light. If the infection is not treated, the follicles develop into large yellow or gray pimples, and small blood vessels develop inside the cornea. In most cases, both eyes are infected.
Repeated infections eventually lead to contraction and turning-in of the eyelids, scarring of the corneas and conjunctivae, eventual blockage of the tear ducts, and blindness.


Diagnosis is based on a combination of the patient's history (especially living or traveling in areas with high rates of trachoma) and examination of the eyes. The doctor will look for the presence of follicles or scarring. He or she will take a small sample of cells from the patient's conjunctivae and examine them, following a procedure called Giemsa staining, to confirm the diagnosis.


Treatment of early-stage trachoma consists of four to six weeks of antibiotic treatment with tetracycline, erythromycin, or sulfonamides. Antibiotics should be given without waiting for laboratory test results. Treatment may combine oral medication with antibiotic ointment applied directly to the eyes. A single-dose treatment with azithromycin is an alternative method. Tetracyclines should not be given to pregnant women or children below the age of seven years.
Patients with complications from untreated or repeated infections are treated surgically. Surgery can be used for corneal transplantation or to correct eyelid deformities.


The prognosis for full recovery is excellent if the patient is treated promptly. If the infection has progressed to the stage of follicle development, prevention of blindness depends on the severity of the follicles, the presence of additional bacterial infections, and the development of scarring.


There are vaccines available that offer temporary protection against trachoma, but there is no permanent immunization. Prevention depends upon good hygiene and public health measures:
  • seek treatment immediately if a child shows signs of eye infection, and minimize his or her contact with other children
  • teach children to wash hands carefully before touching their eyes
  • protect children from flies or gnats that settle around the eyes
  • if someone has trachoma (or any eye infection), do not share towels, pillowcases, etc; Wash items well
  • if medications are prescribed, follow the doctor's instructions carefully



Riordan-Eva, Paul, et al. "Eye." In Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 1998, edited by Stephen McPhee, et al., 37th ed. Stamford: Appleton & Lange, 1997.

Key terms

Conjunctivitis — Inflammation of the conjunctivae, which are the mucous membranes covering the white part of the eyeball (sclera) and lining the inside of the eyelids.
Cornea — The transparent front part of the eye that allows light to enter.
Ophthalmia — Inflammation of the eye. Usually severe and affecting the conjunctiva. Trachoma is sometimes called Egyptian ophthalmia.


 [trah-ko´mah] (pl. tracho´mata)
a chronic infectious disease of the conjunctiva and cornea, producing photophobia, pain, and lacrimation, caused by an organism once thought to be a virus but now classified as a strain of the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is more prevalent in Africa and Asia than in other parts of the world; in North Africa few persons reach adulthood without having contracted the infection. It is fairly common in parts of the United States, such as in parts of the Southwest where a hot dry climate and scarcity of water encourage its spread. Trachoma in children and adults begins with a conjunctivitis that is marked by tiny follicles on the upper eyelids and tarsal plate. The follicles become larger and larger, and there is granulation of the cornea and impairment of vision. Eventually there is severe scarring which results in blindness. Trachoma is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness.

A condition closely related to trachoma in cause, manifestations, and epidemiologic pattern is inclusion conjunctivitis, which is fundamentally a sexually-transmitted disease of the adult genital tract. The agents of trachoma and inclusive conjunctivitis are called tric agents.
Treatment and Prevention. The drug of choice in treatment of trachoma is azithromycin; studies have demonstrated that a single oral dose eliminates the infection and prevents scarring. In areas where azithromycin is not available, tetracyclines may be used, administered topically in the form of suspensions or ointments that adhere to the conjunctiva for prolonged effect. Prevention of trachoma begins with an adequate water supply for washing the hands and bathing, control of flies, and education of the local population about the cause and spread of the disease. Early treatment of young children reduces the source of infection and avoids the complication of blindness. Repeated treatment programs for adults help control the spread of infection.


Chronic contagious microbial inflammation, with hypertrophy, of the conjunctiva, marked by the formation of minute grayish or yellowish translucent granules caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.
[G. trachōma, fr. trachys, rough, harsh]


A contagious disease of the conjunctiva and cornea, caused by the gram-negative bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis and characterized by inflammation, hypertrophy, and formation of granules of adenoid tissue. It is a major cause of blindness in Asia and Africa.

tra·cho′ma·tous (-kō′mə-təs) adj.


Ophthalmology An ocular infection by Chlamydia trachomatis which, if untreated, leads to blindness Incubation period 5 to 7 days, begins as a mild conjunctivitis that develops into a fulminant infection producing large amounts of discharge, and swollen eyelids; the initial stage lasts several wks, followed by a chronic stage in which the lids remain very swollen, the cornea becomes eroded, scarred, and vascularized; the lids develop contractures and may turn outward, pulling away from the eye; 2º bacterial infections may cause blindness. See Chlamydia trachomatis.


Chronic inflammation and hypertrophy of the conjunctiva, marked by the formation of minute grayish or yellowish translucent granules, caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.
Synonym(s): Egyptian ophthalmia, granular ophthalmia.
[G. trachōma, fr. trachys, rough, harsh]


An eye infection with the organism Chlamydia trachomatis , common in underdeveloped countries and responsible for millions of cases of blindness each year. The organism is spread by contact and by flies and causes severe inflammation of the CONJUNCTIVA, inturning of the upper lids, and secondary damage to the CORNEA, with opacification, ulceration and often perforation. Treatment with antibiotic ointments is effective.


A chronic, bilateral, contagious conjunctivitis caused by the serotypes A, Ba and C of Chlamydia trachomatis. The conjunctivitis results in conjunctival scarring (Arlt's line) and may lead to entropion and trichiasis and dry eyes. Follicles at the limbus may leave some sharply defined depressions (Herbert's pits). There is also keratitis with corneal infiltrates, pannus and vascularization. As the disease progresses there is corneal ulceration and opacification, which may result in blindness. Trachoma is one of the main causes of blindness in the world. It is a disease most commonly encountered in hot regions of the globe where hygienic conditions are poor. Treatment includes a course of tetracycline or erythromycin and surgical correction of entropion and trichiasis may be necessary. Syn. egyptian conjunctivitis; granular conjunctivitis.
References in periodicals archive ?
(40) Como vimos en el apartado anterior, en la decada del '20 habian comenzado las preocupaciones por el tracoma, principal enfermedad infecciosa causante de ceguera en el mundo.
Por otra parte, estudios etnobotanicos han permitido la identificacion y el aislamiento de metabolitos con actividad antichlamydial entre los mas reconocidos se encuentra la berberina (43, 58-60), empleada en el tratamiento de tracoma ocular (58), infecciones vaginales (43, 57) y en paciente con uretritis y cervicitis (64).
El tracoma es la principal causa de ceguera prevenible en el mundo; en 2010 represento aproximadamente el 3 % del total de casos (alrededor de 1,3 millones de personas) (9,10); continua siendo la primera causa de ceguera infecciosa, pero paso de la segunda o tercera posicion a la quinta como causa de ceguera en general (11).
15 July 2010 - Malaysian rating service MARC today removed its CID rating on investment holding company Tracoma Holdings Berhad's (KUL:TRACOMA) proposed MYR100m (USD31.2m/EUR24.5m) restructured Al BaiA[cent sign]a'[not sign]a"[cent sign] Bithaman Ajil Islamic Debt Securities (BaIDS) programme and reinstated its DID rating on the firm's defaulted BaIDS.
Aun mas, Castellanos Coutino se refurio a las enfermedades que son "la verguenza en pleno siglo XXI": el tracoma solo existe en Chiapas, y mas de 90% de los casos de leishmaniasis visceral que brotan en el territorio nacional se registran en el estado.
En su perspectiva dicha xenofobia tenia un claro razonamiento economico pero tambien implicaba un ambito de poderosos prejuicios "irracionales" que servian para legitimizar la persecusion y se prestaban como justificaciones "teoricas": esparcian la enfermedad (tracoma y beriberi), animan al vicio (opio y juego) y seducian la feminidad mexicana y, de tal forma, prostuitian la "raza" mejicana en tanto que las campanas antichinas eran acompanadas de imagenes de pulpos tentanculares y sangre corrupta, de enfermedades contagiosas y perversiones exoticas (Knight, 2004, p.
Por ejemplo, cuando lleva al hospital a las ninas enfermas de los ojos, lo hace sin el animo que se espera de una enfermera modelo: "Camino las acaricio con gesto forzado; el tracoma era un fantasma al que tenia miedo y solo por conciencia del deber y afan de dominarse, ayudaba en dias de excesivo trabajo a los oculistas" (1: 62).
Sin embargo, las causas mas comunes en paises en vias de desarrollo son: cataratas, tracoma y glaucoma.
(48) El resultado fue que, durante este periodo, las investigaciones de King se centraron en las caracteristicas clinicas y epidemiologicas de las enfermedades de mayor interes para su agencia (tracoma, dengue y viruela) sin el complemento de estudio experimental o de laboratorio clinico.
Donde quiera que han pasada suplanta han llevado la ruina, la tracoma y el desprestigia.
Among the diseases are hookworm, elephantiasis, tracoma, sleeping sickness, dengue.
domestica incluyen mas de veinte siendo alguna de ellas: tifoidea, disenteria amebiana, colera, poliomielitis, hepatitis infecciosa, conjuntivitis, tracoma y lepra (Vergara & Jimenez 1995).