Trachoma (truh-KOH-muh) is a bacterial infection that affects your eyes. It's contagious, spreading through contact with the eyes, eyelids, and nose or throat secretions of infected people. It can also be passed on by handling infected items, such as handkerchiefs.

At first, trachoma may cause mild itching and irritation of your eyes and eyelids. Then you may notice swollen eyelids and pus draining from the eyes. Untreated trachoma can lead to blindness.

Trachoma is the leading preventable cause of blindness worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 6 million people have been blinded by trachoma. Most blinding trachoma occurs in poor areas of Africa. Among children under 5, prevalence of active trachoma infections can be 60 percent or more.

Early treatment may help prevent trachoma complications.

Aug. 21, 2015