Public Release: 

Trachomatous trichiasis surgery improves quality of life regardless of vision outcomes



IMAGE: This image shows bilateral trachomatous trichiasis with corneal damage. view more

Credit: Esmael Habtamu

Trachomatous trichiasis (TT, inturning of the eyelashes to touch the eye following longterm infection with Chlamydia trachomatis) affects over seven million people world-wide. Corrective eyelid surgery is the recommended treatment for TT. A study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases reports that surgery substantially increases the quality of life (QoL) for affected people, even when their vision is not improved.

TT can cause vision loss over time and is the major cause of infectious blindness in the world. Besides compromising eye health, TT also causes social withdrawal and exclusion, as well as inability to work and earn an income. WHO has developed and validated several tools for measuring health-related quality-of-life. These include a questionnaire designed to measure vision-related quality of life (VRQoL), and one which measures general health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

Using the two questionnaires, Esmael Habtamu from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, UK, and colleagues had previously reported that TT has a profound impact on vision- and health-related QoL, even for patients with good vision. In this study, the researchers measured vision- and health-related quality of life of 1000 TT patients in Ethiopia (the country with the highest disease burden) before and 12 months after TT surgery and calculated the changes. To control for effects not related to the surgery, they compared these QoL scores with the baseline and 1 year follow-up scores of 200 'matched' individuals (that is, people of the same sex, similar age, and living in the same village) who had never had trichiasis or eye surgery.

TT surgery, the researchers found, significantly improved both vision- and health-related QoL of people with TT, even in patients who had no improvement in vision (although larger gains in VRQoL were seen in those with improved vision). In contrast, they saw no substantial improvement in the QoL of the trichiasis-free participants (who were sharing the same environment over the study period). Improvements highlighted by patients who had the surgery included less pain and irritation as well as increased capacity to work.

Their results, the researchers say, "provide clear evidence that the benefit of trichiasis surgery goes beyond preventing the risk of blindness and improves the overall wellbeing and health perception of affected individuals, indicating the need to provide prompt surgical intervention for affected individuals".


Please contact if you would like more information about our content and specific topics of interest.

All works published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases are open access, which means that everything is immediately and freely available. Use this URL in your coverage to provide readers access to the paper upon publication: (Link goes live upon article publication)

Press-Only Preview Of The Article:

Related Image for Press Use: Picture by Esmael Habtamu

Caption: Bilateral trachomatous trichiasis with corneal damage.

Contact: Esmael Habtamu, e-mail:, UK phone: +44.20.7927.2329, Ethiopia phone: +251.91.567.6955

Funding: This research was supported by the Wellcome Trust through a Senior Research Fellowship to MJB (Grant No. 098481/Z/12/Z). The funder had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report. The corresponding author had full access to all the data and had final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.

About PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases ( is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to the pathology, epidemiology, prevention, treatment, and control of the neglected tropical diseases, as well as public policy relevant to this group of diseases. Please contact if you would like more information about our content and specific topics of interest.

Media and Copyright Information

For information about PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and embargo policy, visit .

PLOS Journals publish under a Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits free reuse of all materials published with the article, so long as the work is cited.

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLOS) PLOS is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. For more information, visit


This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLOS. PLOS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.