Aims & background: The main objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence and magnitude of trachoma in Saudi Arabia and to evaluate the factors that play a role in the transmission and severity of the disease.
Methods: The samples consisted of a stratified multistage random cluster design that selected defined primary sampling units of 50-60 housing units in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan communities.
Results: In 1984, evidence of trachoma (active and inactive) was found among 22.2% of the Saudi population and 6.2% of the Saudis had evidence of active trachoma. In addition, 17.4% had conjunctival scarring as a result of old trachoma, and 1.5% had entropion or trichiasis. In 1994, clinical evidence of trachoma (active and inactive) was found among 10.7% of the Saudi population while 2.6% had active trachoma. Conjunctival scarring as a result of healed trachoma was seen in 8.1% and 0.2% had entropion and trichiasis. The prevalence of trachoma in households was directly related to the presence and appearance rating of children in a household, the presence of flies, and the appearance rating of the household itself. An increase in individual risk was found among women who veil and men who use kohl.
Conclusion: This study has shown a remarkable decrease in the prevalence of active trachoma in Saudi Arabia over the past decade. The findings should serve as a basis for future plans for prevention and intervention.