Rosacea can cause eye problems called ocular rosacea (rosacea subtype 4) that requires specialized medical attention. If left untreated, severe ocular rosacea can lead to eyelid scarring or corneal damage and possible visual loss.
The importance of seeking appropriate treatment for ocular rosacea was outlined in the Winter Newsletter from the National Rosacea Society, “Eye Irritation Needs Special Attention“.
Ocular rosacea can develop BEFORE the onset of any skin and more than 60% of people with rosacea reported having eye symptoms.
Ocular rosacea can result in a variety of eye symptoms, including a watery eyes, bloodshot appearing eyes, a gritty sensation, burning or stinging, dryness, itching, light sensitivity and blurred vision. Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid) and the formation of collarettes (narrow circles of loosened keratin, the protein that makes up the outer layer of skin) around the base of the eyelashes are common.
Initial treatment of mild to moderate ocular rosacea may include artificial tears, application of warm compress to the eyes, and cleansing the eyelashes twice each day with water, or with baby shampoo on a wet washcloth. A topical antibiotic ointment may be prescribed for application to the eyelids. A low dose of antibiotic, such as Oracea® or doxycycline (generic) may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation.
Symptoms of rosacea on the skin may also require ongoing treatment with topical medications, such as azelaic acid (Finacea®), or metronidazole (MetroGel®, Noritate®) and laser or light procedures (IPL).
Use of a rosacea diary can be helpful for tracking and managing rosacea symptoms, including eye symptoms. Some people feel that restricting the use of caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol and reduce symptoms of ocular rosacea.
Talk to your doctor if you have rosacea and are experiencing eye symptoms, or if you have chronic eye dryness and irritation that has not responded to previous treatments.