Water shortage doesn't cause trachoma, but it, along with flies, poor hygiene, and crowded living, create the conditions that promote this debilitating disease. WHO defines the disease:
"Trachoma is one of the oldest infectious diseases known to mankind. It is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis – a microorganism which spreads through contact with eye discharge from the infected person (on towels, handkerchiefs, fingers, etc.) and through transmission by eye-seeking flies. After years of repeated infection, the inside of the eyelid may be scarred so severely that the eyelid turns inward and the lashes rub on the eyeball, scarring the cornea (the front of the eye). If untreated, this condition leads to the formation of irreversible corneal opacities and blindness."
This photo (Photo courtesy of WHO. ) shows the corneal opacity caused by blinding trachoma.
Trachoma affects 80 million people who live in the poorest and most remote rural areas of 56 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Australia and the Middle East. WHO's "SAFE" strategy for eliminating the disease by 2020 consists of eye lid Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness, and changing the Environment.