Rosacea of the eye, or ocular rosacea, is an inflammatory disorder of the eye that is a part of the chronic inflammatory skin disorder, rosacea. In a percentage of patients with rosacea, the disease process extends to involve the eye (s) and ocular rosacea supervenes. However, sometimes rosacea of the eye occurs without other skin manifestations of the original disease. Ocular rosacea occurs primarily in adults aging 30 to 60 years. The disease is rather common amongst individuals with fair skin, fair hair and / or light colored eyes.
In the United States, more than 10% of adults suffer from rosacea, of whom 60% exhibit manifestations suggestive of involvement of the eyes. The disorder is more common in females. Although the disease is more common in adulthood, children can rarely be affected by rosacea. The disorder is not life threatening; however, severe affection of the cornea can lead to blindness.
Patients who suffer from skin rosacea may not recognize that the disease process has extended to involve the eyes. Manifestations of ocular rosacea include red eyes (conjunctival injection), itching or burning sensation of the eye (s), discomfort upon exposure to light (photophobia) and inflammation of the eye lids. Even if there are no symptoms which are suggestive of rosacea of the eyes, all patients with rosacea should be thoroughly examined to determine whether or not the disease process has extended to involve the eyes.
The treatment of ocular rosacea is often medical. Most ophthalmologists stress on lid hygiene when treating eye symptoms. Applying hot compresses for the lid margin is crucial to help get rid of thick secretions that are almost always present. Applying some eyelid scrubs is also useful in expressing the secret out of the inflated glands. Furthermore, application of light pressure on the eyes aids in expression of the glands. Non-preserved artificial tears are indicative for patients with severe disease to prevent dryness of the eyes. Occidentally, antibiotics and steroids are used in treatment.
Vitamin A preparations have been proven to be effective in amelioration of the symptoms of patients with ocular rosacea. Uncommonly, surgical intervention is mandatory for selected cases of ocular rosacea, especially those with severe corneal injury.