The Trachoma

a) eye with turned in eyelids. B) photo of eye surgery.
(a) If trachoma is not treated early with antibiotics, scarring on the eyelid can lead to trichiasis, a condition in which the eyelashes turn inward. (b) Trichiasis leads to blindness if not corrected by surgery, as shown here. (credit b: modification of work by Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health & Medicine)

OpenStax Microbiology

Trachoma, or granular conjunctivitis, is a common cause of preventable blindness that is rare in the United States but widespread in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia. The condition is caused by the same species that causes neonatal inclusion conjunctivitis in infants, Chlamydia trachomatisC. trachomatis can be transmitted easily through fomites such as contaminated towels, bed linens, and clothing and also by direct contact with infected individuals. C. trachomatis can also be spread by flies that transfer infected mucous containing C. trachomatis from one human to another.

Infection by C. trachomatis causes chronic conjunctivitis, which leads to the formation of necrotic follicles and scarring in the upper eyelid. The scars turn the eyelashes inward (a condition known as trichiasis) and mechanical abrasion of the cornea leads to blindness. Antibiotics such as azithromycin are effective in treating trachoma, and outcomes are good when the disease is treated promptly. In areas where this disease is common, large public health efforts are focused on reducing transmission by teaching people how to avoid the risks of the infection.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:

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