Situation and trends
Trachoma is a neglected tropical disease, and the leading infectious cause of blindness. It is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.8 million people, and remains a public health problem in 42 countries. Disease results from ocular infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which is spread by direct contact with eye and nose discharges from infected individuals, by contact with fomites (inanimate objects that carry infectious agents) such as towels and/or washcloths, or by eye-seeking flies. The estimated number of people living in endemic districts, at risk of trachoma blindness, has declined from 317 million in 2010 to 190 million in 2016, due to a combination of improved data and implementation of SAFE Strategy (Surgery, Antibiotic treatment, Facial cleanliness, Environmental improvement). In 2016, 260 thousand people received operations for the late, blinding stage of trachoma (trachomatous trichiasis), and 85 million people received antibiotics for trachoma. WHO and partners aim to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem globally by 2020.