Br J Ophthalmol 93:811-814 doi:10.1136/bjo.2008.144147
  • Clinical science
    • Original Article

Comparison of clinical and photographic assessment of trachoma

  1. K G Roper1,2,
  2. H R Taylor3,4
  1. 1
    National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  2. 2
    Centre for Disease Control, Department of Health and Community Services, Northern Territory Government, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
  3. 3
    Indigenous Eye Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4
    Vision CRC, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Professor H Taylor, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, VIC 3053, Australia; h.taylor{at}
  • Accepted 9 February 2009
  • Published Online First 19 March 2009


Aims: The aim of the study was to determine the rates of trachoma in Aboriginal communities and to compare clinical assessment with photographic assessment for the presence of signs of trachoma.

Methods: Five Aboriginal communities in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, Australia, were assessed for the presence of trachoma. Trachoma was diagnosed by clinical eye examination using a fine grading based on the World Health Organization (WHO) simplified grading system. Photographs were taken of the left eye of every person and graded using the fine grading system. The clinical assessment was compared with the photographic assessment for each person using the fine grading system.

Results: A total of 1316 people out of 1545 (85.2%) were screened for trachoma from five communities, with 1254 photographs being compared with clinical assessment scores. The overall prevalence of active trachoma was greater than 10% across the five communities, and greater than 20% in two communities.

Conclusion: Active trachoma in young people and scarring in older people remain as problems in Aboriginal communities. Photographic assessment is a useful technique, but in comparison with clinical assessment it can result in overestimation of scoring for trachoma for inflammation.


  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Funding: K Roper conducted this study as part of her scholarship in the Master of Applied Epidemiology (MAE) degree at the Australian National University. The MAE programme is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. This study was funded by grants from the Bennelong Foundation, cbm Australia, the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Myer Foundation.

  • Ethics approval: Obtained

  • Patient consent: Obtained

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