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Medically reviewed by Khuram Sarwar on 29 December 2022
Ocular rosacea is an inflammatory eye condition that primarily causes redness, itchiness, burning and irritation in eyes. This condition is very common and usually affects those who have a skin condition called rosacea. Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that affects the face area, causing small, red, puss-filled bumps on the skin. This condition usually affects skin, nose and forehead, and, when it starts affecting your eyes, it is called ocular rosacea. This condition affects both men and women equally.
Ocular rosacea symptoms
Most of the people who have rosacea are unaware that their skin condition can also affect their eyes. It is therefore essential to look out for the symptoms when you experience any sort of discomfort in your eyes. Ocular rosacea mostly affects the eyelids, conjunctiva (a membrane that covers inside of eyelids and the surface of eyeballs) and cornea. Look out for:
- Watery eyes
- Swollen or red eyelids; this is the most common sign of this eye condition
- Crusts around roots of eyelashes; this could be blepharitis
- Redness and swelling around the eyes
- Pink eye or conjunctivitis
- Ocular dryness (dry eyes)
- Heaviness in the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Bloodshot eyes
If someone has dry eyes, their cornea is at even greater risk of getting affected. This can lead to complications in vision; in severe cases it can lead to vision loss too.
Please note: Usually ocular rosacea can be the first sign of rosacea. However, you can also develop rosacea and ocular rosacea simultaneously, or one before the other.
Causes of ocular rosacea
The exact cause of ocular rosacea is unknown; however, it is mostly said to be related to micro-organisms on the skin’s surface and reactive blood vessels. The following are potential possibilities:
- Environmental factors such as harsh sunlight or extreme cold
- Blocked eyelid glands
What are triggers for ocular rosacea?
The following triggers can cause frequent flare ups, causing discomfort in your eyes.
- Spicy food
- Intense temperature
Not all the triggers affect everyone, one’s ocular rosacea might be triggered by spicy food while someone else’s might get triggered by another factor.
Treatment of ocular rosacea
There is no cure for this eye condition, however, measures can be taken to control the effects of ocular rosacea. Your doctor will examine you using following a series of health-related questions and might prescribe some antibiotics too. Symptoms can be managed through medication and home remedies.
Daily home tips for ocular rosacea
Follow a good eye care routine to manage this chronic disease. Add the following points to your checklist and make sure you tick them off every day:
- Gently wash your eyelids at least twice a day with lukewarm water. You can use a doctor-recommended product for the wash. This will keep your eyelids clean and help prevent the accumulation of crusts around the roots of eyelids.
- Inflammation and makeup don’t go together. Avoid using makeup if your eyes are swollen and itchy as putting on makeup can cause you more discomfort by irritating your eyes. If you want to wear makeup, go for non-oily (non-comedogenic) and fragrance-free products.
- Avoid triggers that can cause flare-ups of ocular rosacea, it is important to notice what triggers this condition for you. Triggers such as alcohol and spicy food tends to dilate blood vessels in the face.
- Say no to contacts with this eye condition. Wearing contacts can cause you more discomfort. People who suffer with dry eyes should especially be careful with contact lenses. However, artificial tears or eye drops are an excellent option to relieve dryness. Always consult your doctor before purchasing any eye-related product.
- A warm compress, such as Thera-Pearl Eye Mask can also be used on closed eyelids for a couple of minutes daily.
- Wear glasses and sunglasses when going outside to protect your eyes from the sun (especially for people who are extra sensitive to the light because of this condition).
What to do when going for an appointment?
It is important to be observant about any symptoms you’re experiencing. Be it as small as itching, make a note of it and be ready to discuss it with your doctor. Keep a list of questions you want to discuss. Your doctor should be informed about any personal information that could help in the diagnosis of this or any other eye-related disease, such as health history etc. This is very important because sometimes we may think it’s a small thing, however, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem, as such, nothing should be ignored or dismissed. Everything must be discussed in detail with your ophthalmologist.
Is ocular rosacea serious?
Usually, this eye condition can be managed through regular eye care and medications. However, if left untreated, in rare cases, it can damage your eyelids and cornea and might lead to vision loss.