Ocular Rosacea is a condition in which inflammation causes burning, itching, and redness in the eyes. As implied by the name, it is often seen in patients who already have rosacea on the face, but it may also be the first indication that the condition will develop later in life. Ocular rosacea usually affects middle-aged adults, many of whom tend to flush or blush more easily than most people. It can ultimately lead to various problems with vision and, in the worst cases, vision loss.
Medical experts cannot say with certainty exactly what causes the condition. However, it is known that reactive blood vessels, microorganisms that are present on the skin surface, and immunological factors all play a part. Demodex mites, which are usually found on the eyelashes, can cause the inflammation associated with ocular rosacea. It may also be triggered by bacteria, issues with tear production, heredity, and environmental factors.
Ocular rosacea does not only affect the whites of the eyes. It can also cause inflammation in the cornea, eyelids, and – rarely – the sclera and iris. Common symptoms include:
While there is no known cure for ocular rosacea, it can often be well controlled with improved hygiene and home eye care. Various helpful treatments include washing the eyelids with warm water, avoiding contact lenses and makeup when inflammation occurs, and using artificial tears when the eyes feel dry.
It is important to keep up with these practices even when flare-ups are not present. In cases where patients are experiencing an eye infection, doctors may prescribe a regimen of various oral antibiotics. This is often temporary, although severe infections will require longer treatment times.