When rosacea affects the eyes, it is called ocular rosacea. This condition is characterized by red, burning, itching and inflamed eyes. It sometimes occurs before the onset of skin rosacea; the two are associated, and just like skin rosacea, ocular rosacea can only be treated and managed, not cured.
It is quite possible, however, to have skin rosacea and not have ocular rosacea, and vice versa. While skin rosacea is more common with women, ocular rosacea affects men and women equally. Other risk factors include hot and/or spicy food and drinks, alcohol, sunlight, exercise, saunas, medications that contain cortisone and also those that cause vessel dilation. Emotions such as stress, anger, and embarrassment can also contribute to ocular rosacea inflammation.
Ocular rosacea usual onset is between the ages of 30 and 50. The most common symptoms are dry, red eyes, burning or itching eyes, and blurred vision. Other symptoms include teary eyes, swollen eyelids, dilated blood vessels in the white of the eye, sensitivity to light, and feeling like there is something in your eye.
The cause of ocular rosacea is not clear. As with skin rosacea it is likely a combination of heredity and environment. Other causes could be bacteria in the eyes, blocked eyelid glands, and eyelash mites.
Some of these symptoms are similar to other eye conditions, if symptoms don’t clear up, or recur; you may want to see your dermatologist or eye doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Sometime ocular rosacea can affect your eye’s cornea. If this is not diagnosed and treated, it could lead to serious corneal complications.
To help manage ocular rosacea, you might be prescribed an oral antibiotic. A home care routine can also help your situation. Wash your eyelid daily with water and the product your doctor suggests. If your eyes are being affected, do not wear makeup or wear non-oily makeup. Avoid wearing contact lenses during a flare up. Ask your doctor about artificial tears if one of your symptoms is dry eye.
You will likely find that a combination of care from your dermatologist and ophthalmologist will best manage ocular rosacea.