RosaceaNet Spotlight Article
What is ocular rosacea?

Rosacea can affect more than your skin. It can affect your eyes. When rosacea develops in the eyes, it is called ocular rosacea. Common symptoms are dry, itchy, and irritated eyes. Some people see flaking and redness along the edge of their eyelids and around their eyelashes. Your eyes may burn or sting.

When rosacea develops in the eyes, it can appear in one or both eyes. Some people who get rosacea in their eyes have little or no rosacea on their skin. Most people, however, have had rosacea on their skin for a while. A few people get rosacea in their eyes first and later see rosacea begin on their skin.

Ocular rosacea. When rosacea affects the eyes, you often see blood vessels in the eye and on the eyelid.

Ocular rosacea. Some people develop inflamed cysts (styes) on their eyelids.

(Photos used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides)

There is no way to tell whether a person will get ocular rosacea. If you have rosacea or are having eyes problems, it is important that you:

  • Keep track of all eye problems. Writing down any problems you have with your eyes can help find ocular rosacea early. Without treatment, rosacea in the eyes sometimes leads to problems. An ulcer can develop on the eye. This can cause an eye infection and even problems seeing.

    Be sure to tell your dermatologist about any eye problems during your next appointment.

Rosacea affects the eyes in more than half of the people who have rosacea.

  • Ask if you should have an eye exam. If you have rosacea, ask your dermatologist whether you should have eye exams to check for ocular rosacea.

Signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea
If you do not have rosacea on your skin, you can still have it in your eyes. Ocular rosacea tends to come and go. Signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea are:

When you look in the mirror you see:

  • Blood vessels in your eyes and/or eyelids

  • Red, swollen eyelid with scale that sticks to the eyelash

  • An inflamed cyst (stye) on your eyelid

Your eyes may have one or more following sensations:

  • Feel like something is in your eye(s)

  • Burning or stinging

  • Dryness (sometimes the eyes are watery)

  • Irritation

  • Itchiness

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Blurry vision

  • Pain

When rosacea develops in the eyes, treatment is essential. Your dermatologist can create a treatment plan that alleviates the signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea.

Learn more about ocular rosacea:
Rosacea Treatment: Eye Problems

References:
Bamford JT, Gessert CE, Renier CM et al. “Childhood stye and adult rosacea.” J Am Acad Dermatol  2006; 55: 951-5.

Crawford GH, Pelle MT, James WD. “Rosacea: I. Etiology, pathogenesis, and subtype classification.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2004; 51: 327-41; quiz 42-4.

Gupta AK, Chaudhry MM. “Rosacea and its management: an overview.” J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2005; 19: 273-85.

Powell FC. Clinical practice. Rosacea. N Engl J Med 2005; 352: 793-803.

Webster GF. “Rosacea and Related Disorders.” In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP et al, editors.Dermatology, Spain, Mosby Elsevier; 2008. p. 509.

White GM and Cox NH. “Rosacea and related conditions.” In: White GM and Cox NH. Diseases of the Skin: A Color Atlas and Text. China. Mosby Elsevier. 2006. p. 165-6.

Wilkin, J, Dahl M, Detmar M, et al. “Standard grading system for rosacea: report of the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee on the classification and staging of rosacea.” J Am Acad Dermat  2004; 50: 907-12.


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