Trachoma – a leading cause of blindness
Trachoma in its most serious phase causes the eyelashes to grow inwards towards the eye, rubbing and damaging the cornea. In the most severe cases, this can cause loss of vision and irreversible blindness. Of the 60 cases that were found in Guineales, 42 could be treated with surgery. "As an ophthalmologist, I was shocked by the severity of the cases that we found, cases that in all my years of work, I have never seen. Even so, we were still able to carry out surgeries to prevent many patients from losing their vision,” said Virginia Loza, an ophthalmologist that participated in the surgeries.
Despite being a community with many needs, the people here are incredible,” said Sandra Talero, a consultant at PAHO. "We are aware that we have limitations and part of these are due to the severity of the cases we find, but it gives me great satisfaction to know that the physicians, surgeons and oculoplastic doctors have acquired the knowledge to carry out successful interventions for patients moving forward.”
Miguel Ixtox arrived at the clinic with severe trachomatous trichiasis – when the eyelashes rub against the cornea - but thanks to surgery, he managed to recover his vision.
I have received good treatment here. I’ve had this problem in my eyes for a long time. I came here with my wife and child to get treated. Now the pain is gone and I feel great. Thank you for coming to Guineales,” said Miguel.
This initiative was made possible thanks to the coordination of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare’s Disability Committee, which facilitated the training of two Guatemalan specialists by PAHO’s Regional Advisors. Thanks to their commitment and ad honorem work, the Guatemalan professionals, Dr. Virginia Loza and Dr. Diana Garwacki are now experts in the process of eliminating trachoma as a public health problem in the country.