There are many different conditions that can affect the eyes and some of them can be serious. One of the more serious conditions of the eye is called ocular rosacea and this condition can lead to many long-term vision problems.
Ocular rosacea is an inflammation of the eye that occurs as a result of rosacea. Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects the skin on your face, nose and forehead. A lot of people that develop ocular rosacea have it in combination with other symptoms of rosacea although it can develop by itself. People who develop ocular rosacea will often have many different symptoms that will appear and it can happen with or without skin symptoms.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea include dry eyes, burning or stinging of the eyes and itchy eyes. You might also have blurred vision, gritty feeling in the eye, styes, and red or swollen eyelids. Redness, sensitivity to light and visibly dilated small blood vessels on the white part of the eye is also common. These symptoms could be indicative of many other conditions of the eye so it is important to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. If you already have skin rosacea then you should be very aware of any changes in your eye and report all changes or concerns to the appropriate medical professional.
The main cause of ocular rosacea is unknown but there are a variety of hereditary and environmental factors that could trigger it. Some factors that could trigger ocular rosacea include taking blood pressure medication, being in sunlight, drinking alcohol, eating spicy foods or consuming hot beverages. Being in extreme heat or cold, taking corticosteroids, exercising excessively, being stressed or angry and taking hot baths can also exacerbate the symptoms of ocular rosacea. If you have skin rosacea already, you probably know what could trigger the condition and those same triggers can affect ocular rosacea as well. Along with various triggers for ocular rosacea, you also have risk factors that could increase your odds of getting this eye condition.
One of the biggest risk factors for ocular rosacea is having skin rosacea already, since one usually will develop with the other. Sometimes a child who develops a stye early in life is showing a predisposition for developing ocular rosacea in their later years. Men and women are both equally affected by ocular rosacea but people with lighter skin are at a higher risk. If you are between the ages of 30 and 60 then you will also be more prone to ocular rosacea, especially if you are a female who is going through menopause. If you have a family history of rosacea or you are prone to blushing, it also increases your risk. A lot of people do not think of ocular rosacea as a serious medical condition but there are some long-term complications that could arise from the condition.
If you leave ocular rosacea untreated then it could affect the surface of your eye. The surface of the eye is known as the cornea and it is likely to become inflamed from the dryness that is associated with the condition. If you have dry eyes then you are not producing enough tears and this can cause your cornea to become scarred or injured later in life. Leaving ocular rosacea untreated could also increase your risk of getting blepharitis, which is the inflammation of the eyelid and it can lead to irritation of the cornea. If your cornea is irritated for a long period of time then you could have vision problems or even experience long-term or permanent vision loss. If you think you have ocular rosacea or you are at risk for developing it, you should seek medical attention immediately to prevent long-term complications.
There are no specific tests that a doctor can perform to determine whether or not you are suffering from ocular rosacea. The diagnosis will usually come from an ophthalmologist who will be able to determine the diagnosis based on a variety of simple tests. The eye doctor will perform an examination on your eyes and eyelids to see whether there is any inflammation or irritation around the cornea. A medical history will also be performed and the doctor might ask you about your family history with questions focusing on conditions of the skin. The doctor will also ask you about your symptoms which can help the doctor determine whether ocular rosacea could be responsible. Generally, ocular rosacea is confirmed as a diagnosis if there is a family history of rosacea or if other similar medical conditions are ruled out. Once the doctor confirms the diagnosis of ocular rosacea, then you can move onto a treatment plan.
The treatment for ocular rosacea consists of managing the signs and symptoms since there is no cure for the condition. Usually the doctor will prescribe various antibiotics and corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation. The doctor might also prescribe you artificial tears to help combat the dryness of the eye which can make the symptoms of ocular rosacea worse. The eyedrops that might be used should only be used when needed and long-term use of such eyedrops can actually cause more harm to the eye. It is important that you listen to the doctor and take the medications for ocular rosacea as prescribed because it could make the condition worse if the medication is misused. Using the artificial tears is a great option to manage the dryness of the condition but you should ask your doctor about specific guidance on use. You should also wash your eyelids daily to keep them clean with warm water or a product recommended by the doctor. Wearing contact lenses might make ocular rosacea worse, so it is important to talk to your doctor about other options you have for eyewear. If you are experiencing a flare-up of the symptoms then you probably want to stop wearing the contact lenses until the dryness and inflammation disappears. It is important to listen to your doctor when it comes to how to use the various medications to manage the condition because overusing medications will never help and can make symptoms worse.
There are many things to remember if you have ocular rosacea but the most important thing you can do is to keep your eyes as moist and clean as possible. Going to the doctor at the first sign of ocular rosacea is important, especially if you already have skin rosacea. If you have ocular rosacea then you should get eye examinations at least two times a year to make sure the condition is not getting worse. You should get medications when the condition flares-up as well to get rid of any inflammation near the cornea. By taking the time to manage the symptoms you can help protect your eyes from possible permanent vision loss.
Mayo Clinic Staff, “Ocular Rosacea”, Mayo Clinic