Ocular Rosacea and Dry Eye
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that affects the face, and of them, more than 50% will experience eye-related symptoms. While there is a lot of research out there on ocular rosacea, a cure remains elusive. Fortunately, your eye doctor can help you manage your symptoms through medication and offer guidance on how to best manage this condition.
What is Ocular Rosacea?
Ocular rosacea is a common inflammatory eye condition that causes redness, itching, and burning sensations around the eyes in many people who have rosacea. The primary parts of the eyes that are affected are the eyelids, conjunctiva, and occasionally the cornea.
What Are the Symptoms of Ocular Rosacea?
Signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea are similar to dry eye. Those with the condition may experience:
- Burning, red, itchy, or watery eyes
- Grittiness or the feeling of having a foreign body in one or both eyes
- Red, swollen eyelids
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Recurrent eye or eyelid infections, such as blepharitis, pink eye (conjunctivitis), chalazia or styes
- Dilated small blood vessels on the sclera (the white part of the eye)
What Causes Ocular Rosacea?
The exact cause of ocular rosacea is unknown, but researchers have found that 85% of people with the condition have blocked oil glands around the edges of their eyelids. When these glands are blocked they cause dryness and the area around them can get irritated and swollen. This can lead to crust in your eyelashes and itching and redness in your eyes.
Other potential triggers:
- Bacterial involvement
- Blocked glands in the eyelids
- Environmental factors
- Eyelash mites
There are also a number of things that can aggravate ocular rosacea, including alcohol consumption, hot baths and saunas, hot or spicy foods and beverages, strenuous exercise, stress, sunlight, wind, and extreme temperatures.
Is There Treatment For Ocular Rosacea?
Ocular rosacea can usually be controlled with home eye care and medication, but these don’t actually cure the condition.
Treatment may include applying a warm moist compress to your eyelids and probing—a newer treatment where thin rods are put into the plugged glands to open them up, helping your eyes moisten. Your eye doctor might recommend antibiotics, prescribe eye drops, or ointments with steroids to help with your symptoms.
In rare circumstances, left untreated, severe ocular rosacea can damage your cornea or scar your eyelid. Both can affect your vision.
To help prevent flare-ups:
- Gently wash your eyelids at least twice a day with warm water or a product your doctor recommends. This will keep your eyelids clean.
- Avoid makeup. If your eyes are inflamed, makeup can irritate them. If you do decide to wear makeup when they aren’t inflamed, choose types that are non-oily and free of fragrance.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses during flare-ups.
- Avoid things that trigger or worsen your ocular rosacea. Items that tend to dilate blood vessels in the face include alcoholic beverages and hot, spicy foods.
To learn more about ocular rosacea and dry eye, contact The Dry Eye Center at Pacific Rims Optometry. We can help you prevent flare-ups and treat your ocular rosacea-induced dry eye.
The Dry Eye Center at Pacific Rims Optometry serves patients from San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Mateo, all throughout California