Ocular rosacea is related to a common inflammatory condition affecting skin of the face and chest, as well as the eyes. While the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, the condition may be associated with inherited tendencies and environmental factors such as excessive sun exposure.Rosacea occurs more frequently in women, but men are more likely to have severe forms of the disease. Eye involvement with rosacea is not unusual.
Symptoms of Rosacea and Ocular Rosacea
People with rosacea often have a “ruddy” complexion in the early stages, such as a reddish nose and cheeks. These symptoms often progress to include development of bumpy red skin lesions, pimples, and tiny, tortuous vessels in the skin known as telangiectasias (tel-an-jee-ek-TAY-zee-ahs).The most severe cases of rosacea progress to a condition called rhinophyma (rie-no-FIE-mah), in which the skin thickens along with connective tissues of the nose. Rhinophyma can result in some degree of disfigurement.
When you have rosacea affecting the skin, you may not realize that your eyes also are involved if accompanying symptoms such as eye itchiness and eye redness are relatively mild.People diagnosed with ocular rosacea commonly have chronically bloodshot eyes, dry eyes and Blepharitis. In cases of severe ocular rosacea, inflammation of the cornea may occur and can lead to a corneal ulcer .
Treatment for Ocular Rosacea
- Good lid hygiene measures that include daily cleansing with a moistened Q-tip to remove debris and oily secretions. Sometimes plain water is best and other time diluted baby shampoo is used.
- Often, an antibiotic or combination antibiotic-steroid ointment is prescribed for varying periods of time, depending on response.
- Sometimes long-acting tetracyclines such as doxycycline may be prescribed. Tetracyclines seem to work well in some cases because they decrease the viscosity of naturally secreted oils, thereby reducing the oil gland “plugging” that occurs with this disease.
- Non-preserved artificial tears are often prescribed as often as four times daily or more.
- Punctal plugs are sometimes helpful in the relieving the dry eye symptoms.
- Topical metronidazole (an anti-parasitic agent) may be used on the skin and in many people is very effective for the rosacea-related dermatitis. The medicine appears to have local anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects. Because this treatment is not available in ophthalmic preparations, you should not apply the medicine directly to eyelids.
- Intense Pulsed Light Therapy is the latest and most advanced treatment that has been shown to be very effective in relieving symptoms.
If you have rosacea, your doctor will likely advise you to avoid triggers that may cause inflammation, such as stress, spicy foods and alcohol.