What is Ocular Rosacea?
Ocular rosacea is an inflammatory condition which can affect your eyes and eyelids. It is more common in women, and people who have rosacea involving other parts of their face (cheeks, nose, chin and forehead). You can have rosacea of your face with or without ocular rosacea, and vice versa. It is very important to diagnose and treat ocular rosacea in order to prevent permanent changes to, and scarring of, your eyelids, and irreversible damage to the glands in your eyelids known as meibomian glands. Of note, people with ocular rosacea have a much higher incidence of infections involving their eyelids, i.e. styes (hordeolum), chalazia and cellulitis.
What Causes Ocular Rosacea?
The exact cause of ocular rosacea is not known; it is thought to have both hereditary (genetic) and environmental components. It may be caused by swelling of the blood vessels in the skin in the affected areas. Some research has also implicated an overgrowth of certain bacteria, and a definite association has been made between both rosacea (of the face) and ocular rosacea, and demodex mites.
Rosacea and ocular rosacea are chronic conditions characterized by periods of remission and exacerbation. Certain activities, exposures and foods are thought to cause, or contribute to, exacerbations namely: stress, drinking alcoholic or hot beverages, eating spicy foods, cardio or aerobic exercise, wind, cold, sun exposure and demodex mites.
What are the Symptoms of Ocular Rosacea?
It is possible to have ocular rosacea and be completely asymptomatic. Alternatively, you may experience one or more of the following signs and symptoms involving your eyes and/or eyelids: dryness, burning, redness, itching, irritation, watering, stinging, grittiness, a foreign body sensation, fluctuating vision, light sensitivity, swollen “puffy” eyelids.