4 Things You Need To Know About Ocular Rosacea

Health & Medical Blog

Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by red, rough, bumpy skin on the face. Over half of rosacea sufferers will also experience ocular involvement, which is known as ocular rosacea. Here are four things you need to know about ocular rosacea.

What are the symptoms of ocular rosacea?

Most often, ocular rosacea affects the eyelids. It leads to blepharitis, which is swelling of the eyelids. It may also lead to telangiectasias (visible blood vessels) on the eyelids.

Ocular rosacea can also lead to chronic conjunctivitis (pink eye). Conjunctivitis presents as red, watery, irritated eyes.

Dry eye is another sign of ocular rosacea. If your eyes are dry, you'll feel sensations like burning, stinging, or grittiness. This happens when your meibomian glands, which produce a type of oil that keeps your tears from evaporating, become plugged.

What causes ocular rosacea?

The cause of rosacea is still not known. Some scientists believe that it's a vascular disorder, which means that it's caused by your blood vessels not working the way they should. Other scientists believe that it's a nervous system disorder, which means it can be triggered by factors like stress. Other scientists suspect that excessive numbers of Demodex folliculorum, a mite that's normally found on people's skin, causes the condition. More studies need to be done to figure out why people get rosacea and why it affects some people's eyes but not others.

Can it cause vision damage?

Since ocular rosacea leads to dry eye, it can damage your vision. Your tears lubricate your cornea and keep it safe from friction, but without enough tears, your cornea may become scraped or scratched.

Eyelid inflammation can also damage your corneas. This can happen if the swelling forces your eyelashes to turn inwards, where they will rub against your eyes every time you blink. This can damage the surface of your corneas.

When your cornea becomes injured, your vision is at risk. This is because the injuries may leave scars. Scars on the cornea are different from scars on other parts of your body; they're not just a cosmetic problem. Light needs to go through your corneas for you to see properly, and if thickened scar tissue is in the way, less light will be able to get inside. This can lead to decreased vision or vision loss. If your corneas are severely scarred, you may need to get a corneal transplant to restore your vision.

How is ocular rosacea treated?

Ocular rosacea can't be cured, but your optometrist can help you control it. Artificial tears can be used to control your dry eye symptoms, and holding hot compresses against your eyes can help to unclog your meibomian glands.

Antibiotic eye drops can be used off-label to treat the condition. Antibiotics have the side effects of improving your Meibomian gland secretions and protecting your cornea, so you may need to take them indefinitely, even though you don't' have an infection.

If you think you have ocular rosacea, see Blue Ridge Ophthalmology or your local optometrist. 


2 February 2016

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