Two weeks ago I got a tiny bit of a sense of what the early stages of trachoma must feel like. I probably shouldn’t compare what happened to me to trachoma, but bear with me just for the illustration. I guess I was hurrying to take may shower and two mornings in a row I got shampoo in my right eye. The first day it burned and was a little irritated, but I was able to wash the shampoo out and the eye felt much better within a few minutes and within an half hour I forgot about it, even though it remained a little red for most of the morning. The next day I did it again. This time washing it out with water helped, but it felt irritated for most of the morning and was a little red for all day.
A few things hit me about these episodes, one I’m an idiot for getting shampoo in my eyes in the first place, but that has little to do with trachoma! But, seriously, I was able to immediately wash out the shampoo and the first day got almost immediate relief. However, after it happened the second day, the relief wasn’t so immediate even though I washed out the shampoo just as quickly, because my eye was already irritated from the day before even though I might not have really thought so by the next morning.
Imagine not having any water to wash out shampoo from your eye, or having to walk miles and in many cases hours to get a little water to do so. And what if that water was not clean, but contaminated, what would you be introducing to your eye just to get a little relief from the shampoo.
Now imagine you live where you just don’t have access to enough water and you just have to suffer, but instead of shampoo in your eyes, it’s flies that themselves are looking for a little water and so they are constantly in your eyes, and at first they are just irritating your eyes, but eventually they transfer bacteria into your eyes and give you an infection. What can you do? You can’t even wash your face. Seriously, I’m not talking daily washing your face, you might not be even to wash your face once a week, maybe not even once a month. What are you supposed to do?
The sad fact is that eventually you will slowly lose your eye sight, and eventually go blind! Amazing, when just being able to wash your face each day would prevent this awful reality for so many around the world without access to sustainable clean water!