Trachoma is the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world.
Multiple infections cause a condition known as trichiasis, where the eyelid develops so much scar tissue that the eyelashes start to turn inwards, scratching the eyeball with every blink.
The pain is made worse by sunlight, dust and smoke – preventing people from doing their daily chores. Trachoma is found in some of the poorest communities and traps its sufferers in a cycle of poverty.
It is preventable through the SAFE interventions – a policy based on common sense and practical knowledge. Its components are Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial hygiene, and Environmental improvement.
The SAFE interventions cover surgery for those with scar tissue in their eyelids, antibiotics to treat the infections, methods to prevent transmission and changing the surroundings to prevent further infection.
Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health will air on Al Jazeera in 2014.