Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Neglected Diseases Week Neglected Eyes
25 February 2013

Neglected Eyes

By definition, neglected diseases are overlooked. Their effects are not often deadly, but can still wreak havoc among an estimated billion people in the world's poorest populations. Trachoma, a bacterial infection that leads to blindness, is a prime example. Illustrated by this map, in which country size relates to numbers of trachoma cases, the overwhelming burden of the disease falls on Africa and South-East Asia. And, although it causes no large, media-attracting outbreaks, the disease nonetheless takes a dramatic toll. Over 40 million people need treatment, as the roughening of the eyelids and in-growing of their lashes slowly but steadily destroys their eyes. But it doesn't have to be this way. Treatments costing as little as 50p would go a long way to eliminate the disease, and prevent further growth of the group of more than one million people who have already lost their sight because of the disease.

Written by Jan Piotrowski

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