Dr Milind Naik, Consultant & Head, Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery Service,
L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad
Ocular rosacea is inflammation (swelling) of the eye surface that occurs as a result of rosacea, a chronic, inflammatory condition that affects the skin on your face, nose and forehead. One may have skin and ocular rosacea together, or ocular rosacea may occur by itself.
Ocular rosacea primarily affects adults and is more common in people with fair skin. Typical eye findings include dry eyes, itching, and burning sensation. Blurred vision and sensitivity to light (photophobia) may rarely occur. Most common finding is a blood-shot eye, or a red eye, and red swollen lids. A patient with ocular rosacea may be mis-interpreted by others to be a chronic alcoholic, by their red eyes. Consuming hot spicy food or alcohol, extremes of temperature and stress can aggravate rosacea. There are no specific tests to diagnose rosacea. Your doctor will make a diagnosis by eye examination. There's no cure for ocular rosacea, and if left untreated, it tends to get worse. There are medications to help you manage the condition.
Blepharitis or swelling of the eyelid can cause recurrent stye, or even eyelid nodule called chalazion. Doctors typically prescribe oral antibiotics, such as tetracycline, doxycycline for severe ocular rosacea. Artificial tears may be helpful to combat the dryness. Some eye drops (such as the ones containing Phenylephrine) may make the eye look white due to constriction of the vessels, but usually rebound redness occurs after few minutes or hours. Also a warning about the use of steroid eye drops and ointment, which should be used only on the prescription of your eye doctor, as excessive use may cause vision threatening side effects.
If ugly nodules (chalazia) are left on your eyelids, they would require medical treatment with hot compresses, or steroid injection. For cases that do not respond to medications, small scar less curettage procedure can be performed to flatten it.
There's no known way to prevent ocular rosacea, but you can take steps to control your symptoms. Even if it clears completely, ocular rosacea is likely to return. Keep taking the medications your doctor prescribes and cleanse your eyelids daily. Avoid things that trigger rosacea, if possible.