Yes, rosacea does affect your eyes, and this condition is known as ocular rosacea. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that frequently affects your cheeks, nose, and forehead. There are different types of rosacea. They are:
- Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR)
- Papulopustular or Acne rosacea
- Phymatous rosacea
- Ocular rosacea
The fourth type of rosacea affects your eyes, and it is called as ocular rosacea.
What is ocular rosacea?
Ocular rosacea is the inflammation of your eyes causing redness and itchiness. It tends to occur more in people between 30 to 50 years old. Although there is no cure for the disease, its signs and symptoms can be easily controlled with the right medication and with good eye care.
What are the signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea?
The signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea may precede skin symptoms of rosacea, appear at the same time, later, or can occur as a separate disease. The features of ocular rosacea include:
- Tearing of the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Photophobia (light sensitivity)
- Red and swollen upper eyelids
- Visible blood vessels on the white part of your eye
If you have any of these signs and symptoms, consult your doctor as early as possible. If you have been previously diagnosed with rosacea, still speak with your doctor and ask if you should sit for periodic eye exams.
What are the causes of ocular rosacea?
Although the exact cause of ocular rosacea is not known, experts do believe that the environment and the genetic background have big roles to play in the pathogenesis of the disease. Other factors that may contribute to this condition are bacterial infections, eyelid mites, and blocked lacrimal glands of the eyes.
Spicy foods, alcohol, exposure to sunlight, stress, strenuous physical activities, and drugs that may dilate your blood vessels may exacerbate the symptoms of ocular rosacea.
Who is at risk of developing ocular rosacea?
Ocular rosacea is more common to occur in people who are already affected by skin rosacea. However, it is possible for a person without skin rosacea to develop ocular rosacea. In this type of rosacea, both males and females have an equal chance of developing it, although females are more prone to develop skin rosacea.
How is it diagnosed?
After taking a careful history and a physical exam of your skin and eyes, your doctor can come to a diagnosis of ocular rosacea. There are no specific tests needed to diagnose this condition. It is purely a clinical diagnosis.
How is it treated?
As you know, there is no treatment for ocular rosacea, but its signs and symptoms can be controlled, and will let you lead a normal life with the right medication and eye care. Your doctor may prescribe you some antibiotics, which should be taken for a longer period of time if the condition is too severe. Even with medications, it is possible for you to develop a flare-up every now and then. To prevent these flare-ups, you can practice these eye care routines:
- Wash your eyes with warm water gently at least twice a day.
- Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, exposure to sunlight, or anything that may trigger your condition.
- Do not apply makeup if you have red and itchy eyes.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses during periods of flare-ups.
- If your eyes are dry, speak with your doctor about applying lubricant eye drops.