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Leprosy is a bacterial infection caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae. It usually affects the nerves, skin, eyes, and nose. It manifests as painless ulcers, swellings, and spots on the skin of its victims.

Eye problems

Leprosy is a treatable disease but if not treated on time, it can cause nerve damage to the eyes, and this can cause the following eye problems:

Loss of feeling in the eyes

This poses a serious risk to the eyes because when someone loses feelings in the eyes, injuries can occur in them without the person knowing. This will delay detection and treatment and lead to further eye damage.

Difficulty in closing and opening the eyes

Damaged eye nerves caused by leprosy affect the eyelids, keeping the eyes open when they ought to be closed and vice versa. It also prevents the eyes from blinking, which is a way by which our eyes get cleaned. This exposes our eyes to damage and possible blindness if untreated.


Treatment and prevention

One can prevent the above leprosy eye problems by identifying and treating the leprosy symptoms (painless skin patches) promptly at the earliest stage. However, if the eye nerve damage has set in, see your eye care provider immediately for proper examination and the right treatment.

While undergoing treatment, you can also do a few things such as closing your eyes and blinking often, putting on protective eyewear, hat, or a shawl when going out to protect your eyes from sand and dust. When sleeping, you can wrap a cloth loosely around your eyes to protect them. These tips will help to prevent the existing damage from getting worse.

We recommend that people with leprosy should get regular eye check-ups throughout the duration of their treatment to enable close follow up on their eye health. Contact us for more eye care information.