Abaynesh is an 8 year old girl who has a bright future ahead of her. She is smart, and at the school she attends in Suke she has been promoted to the third grade, according to her father. She was a cheerful, happy girl with healthy eyes until about six months ago. She started to complain of pain in her eyes, a foreign body sensation with redness and tearing of her right eye. She had trouble during class as she was unable to see properly. After seeing the seriousness of his daughter’s eye problem her father brought her to the nearby Health Centre at Suke about 2km away from their home.
On her first visit, Esayas Gensa, the eye care worker diagnosed Abaynesh as having trachomatous trichiasis (blinding stage of trachoma) in the upper eyelid of the right eye. He discussed with her father about her case and reached an agreement that she needed an immediate lid surgery for correction and made an appointment for surgery a couple of days later.
Like any 8 year old girl, Abaynesh was naturally terrified at first at the thought of surgery. She went ahead bravely and came back a week later to have her stitches removed. The surgery was a success and Abaynesh is now back to being her happy, lively self. Her condition had improved greatly- she was no longer in pain and her vision was much clearer. Her father spoke of his happiness:
“My child has got her sight back again and now she is able to play with her friends and attend class in comfort without eye problem”.
Trachoma is a major cause of blindness in the world, found primarily in rural settings like Suke in southern Ethiopia. Children are most susceptible to the infection, with blinding effects of the disease often not known until adulthood. If Abaynesh had not received treatment for her triachiasis, it is highly likely that she would have become blind due to scarring of the cornea.
Trachoma is commonly found in persons over 15 years of age after they have suffered infections of the disease several times during their life time. Therefore, finding trachoma in children below the age of 15 is considered an indicator of the severity of trachoma in the specific community. In the poorest areas of southern Ethiopia, families simply cannot afford treatment and trachoma spreads rapidly.
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