NEW YORK, Mar. 15, 2006 – A single dose of azithromycin taken by mouth after surgery reduces by one third the recurrence of trichiasis, concluded a study conducted by ORBIS International in partnership with
University’s Wilmer Eye Institute and funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI). This is in contrast to the usual six-week regimen of tetracycline ointment applied directly to the eye.
The results of the clinical trial, which took place at ORBIS project sites in southern
Ethiopia, have been published in the March 2006 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.
“ORBIS is proud to have partnered with top
US research institutions to lend our experience in fighting blinding trachoma in
Ethiopia for this study,” said Dr Wondu Alemayehu, ORBIS’s country director in
Ethiopia and the principal investigator on the Ethiopian side. “It is estimated that 11 million people worldwide develop trichiasis each year. We believe that the knowledge gained through this study will be transferable to other countries and will help prevent much unnecessary blindness.”
Trichiasis occurs in poor, overcrowded communities that have little access to clean water, waste treatment facilities or health care. These communities are located mainly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia,
Australia and some areas of
Latin America. Trachoma can be best treated through simple eyelid surgery to turn the lid right side out.
In this study, called Surgery for Trichiasis, Antibiotics to Prevent Recurrence (STAR), eye infection with the bacterium that causes trachoma was present in 19 percent of the adults with trichiasis in
Ethiopia, the location of the clinical trial. More than 77 percent of the patients were women, who have four times the rate of trichiasis than men. Women often contract trachoma repeatedly by take care of infected children.
“This clinical trial was relatively inexpensive to conduct and produced results that may well save the vision of millions of people,” said Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, Director of vision research at NIH. “We look forward to supporting future trials to treat blinding eye diseases worldwide.”
For this trial, researchers from John Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute partner with ORBIS. ORBIS trained Integrated Eye Care Workers (IECWs) to perform the eyelid surgeries, and Wilmer Eye Institute certified them, following World Health Organization guidelines to ensure quality. The surgeries performed by the IECWs were as successful as those performed by ophthalmologists and overall recurrence rates were low.
Pfizer, Inc, through the International Trachoma Initiative that it co-sponsors with the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, provided the Zithromax®, the brand name of azithromycin, used in this trial and at ORBIS project sites throughout
Notes to Editor
Photos and other materials are available in downloadable, camera-ready format on the NEI website http://www.nei.nih.gov/trichiasis. For more information on ORBIS, visit www.orbis.org
Brooke Johnson, US Public Relations, ORBIS International, +1(646) 674-5532, firstname.lastname@example.org
Djalene Temesgen, Public Relations, ORBIS Ethiopia, +251 11 6620996/7, email@example.com