Prevalence of cicatricial trachoma in an indigenous population of Central Australia: the Central Australian Trachomatous Trichiasis Study (CATTS)

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2005 Apr;33(2):142-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2005.00972.x.


Background: Trachoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, resulting from conjunctival scarring, upper lid entropion and trichiasis, leading to corneal scarring and opacification. This study was designed to investigate the current prevalence of cicatricial trachoma in an indigenous population within Central Australia and help determine whether trachoma remains a public health issue.

Methods: Participants aged 40 and over were recruited from patients attending one of 16 remote ophthalmology clinics held at indigenous communities in Central Australia within the Northern Territory. Once informed consent had been obtained, each patient underwent examination for evidence of trachomatous scarring, trachomatous trichiasis and corneal opacities. Results were collated and compared with previous prevalence surveys.

Results: Among the sample (n = 181), there were 97 patients (54%; 95% CI 46.7-61.3) with trachomatous scarring, 15 patients (8%; 95% CI 2.8-13.2) with trichiasis and 5 patients (3%; 95% CI 0.5-5.5) with corneal opacities.

Conclusion: This study suggests that, although the prevalence of the cicatricial and blinding consequences of trachoma may be decreasing in patients aged 40 years or greater, when compared with the current prevalence in other areas of Australia, trachoma still remains a public health issue in Central Australia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness
  • Cicatrix / ethnology
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Corneal Opacity / ethnology
  • Corneal Opacity / etiology
  • Eyelashes
  • Female
  • Hair Diseases / ethnology
  • Hair Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Northern Territory / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Trachoma / complications
  • Trachoma / ethnology*