Ocular rosacea is a type of inflammatory condition that develops from rosacea, a condition that causes swelling of the skin in different parts of the face, such as the nose and forehead. People with ocular rosacea often develop symptoms of rosacea, such as acne, inflammation in the nose or thickened skin within the cheeks or chin. Ocular rosacea symptoms are sometimes not noticeable,and patients may believe they have other health problems, such as allergies.
Females are more at risk for developing both ocular rosacea and rosacea than men, according to the Mayo Clinic. People who are 30 to 60 years old, are Caucasian or have light skin or have family members with eye rosacea are most likely to develop the condition.
Signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea sometimes develop before the symptoms of rosacea. The most common symptoms of ocular rosacea are eye lid irritation, a condition known as blepharitis that causes eyelid inflammation, scaly or crusty skin around the eyelids, redness, itchiness or dryness in the eyes, a feeling of grittiness in the eyes or sensitivity to bright lights. The development of styes, or small growths on the eyelids, can sometimes lead to people losing their eyelashes. Sometimes patients can develop more severe symptoms, such as blurred vision or enlarged blood vessels in their eyes. Ocular rosacea symptoms often appear in milder forms.
Symptoms of ocular rosacea can become progressively worse within a year or less if left untreated, according to the National Rosacea Society. Ocular rosacea can become dangerous if left untreated because it can cause problems in the cornea, the transparent layer in the front of the eye that helps to keep foreign material out of the eye and to focus the eye when light first enters it.
To work properly, the cornea needs tears, which means it may become damaged if symptoms of ocular rosacea, such as eye dryness or redness, are present. Some patients with ocular rosacea develop keratitis, a condition characterized by swelling in the cornea. If ocular rosacea is left untreated for a long period of time, patients can develop major eye problems, such as vision loss.
People should seek medical treatment for ocular rosacea if they begin to have problems with blurred vision or burning in their eyes. When patients first seek medical help for the condition, doctors often perform physical examinations and take medical histories to diagnose their conditions. There are no specific tests for ocular rosacea, which means that physicians often have to base their diagnoses on the symptoms that patients are exhibiting. Sometimes doctors have patients get eye exams, if they develop reoccurring forms of ocular rosacea, to assess whether the condition has caused vision problems.
Treatment and Prevention
Physicians often give antibiotics, such as erythromycin, tetracycline or doxycycline, to patients with severe types of eye rosacea. Certain types of corticosteroids can help to reduce the amount of swelling in the eye resulting from the condition. For symptoms caused by ocular rosacea, such as dry and red eyes, doctors will sometimes prescribe eye drops. Patients can help reduce minor symptoms, such as eyelid soreness, by regularly washing their eyelids with lukewarm water or putting a warm compress over their eyes. Many pharmacies have special over-the-counter products for ocular rosacea, which are meant to target ocular-rosacea symptoms. Patients can often remove foreign debris from their eyelids with a wet cotton swab, which can also help reduce their symptoms.
People can keep symptoms of ocular rosacea from becoming worse by wearing their glasses instead of their contacts until their condition improves. Artificial tears solutions often help to reduce or prevent eye dryness. Patients can sometimes prevent ocular rosacea by staying away from certain materials that cause their symptoms to flare up, such as spicy cuisine, alcoholic beverages or exposure to the sun’s rays.
Mayo Clinic: Ocular Rosacea
National Rosacea Society: Frequently Asked Questions
All about Vision; Stye; Judith Lee and Gretchyn Bailey
Rosacea Treatment Guide: Ocular Rosacea
International Rosacea Foundation: Ocular Rosacea