Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Trachoma treatment options depend on the stage of the disease.


In the early stages of trachoma, treatment with antibiotics alone may be enough to eliminate the infection. The two drugs currently in use include a tetracycline eye ointment and oral azithromycin (Zithromax). Although azithromycin appears to be more effective than tetracycline, azithromycin is more expensive. In poor communities, the drug used often depends on which one is available and affordable.

The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend giving antibiotics to an entire community when more than 10 percent of children have been affected by trachoma, to treat anyone who has been exposed to trachoma and reduce the spread of trachoma.


Treatment of later stages of trachoma — including painful eyelid deformities — may require surgery. WHO guidelines recommend surgery for people with the advanced stage of trachoma.

In eyelid rotation surgery (bilamellar tarsal rotation), your doctor makes an incision in your scarred lid and rotates your eyelashes away from your cornea. The procedure limits the progression of corneal scarring and can help prevent further loss of vision. Generally, this procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis and often significantly reduces the chances of trachoma returning.

If your cornea has become clouded enough to seriously impair your vision, corneal transplantation may be an option that may improve vision. Frequently, however, with trachoma, this procedure doesn't have good results.

You may have a procedure to remove eyelashes (epilation) in some cases. However, this procedure may need to be done repeatedly. Another temporary option, if surgery isn't an available option, is to place an adhesive bandage over your eyelashes to keep them from touching your eye.

Oct. 03, 2012