If you have chronic facial redness, flushed skin, or bumps on the skin, you may be affected by a condition known as rosacea. This dermatologic condition is relatively common, and is characterized by chronic inflammation of the skin, especially around the face and neck. Rosacea can even cause inflammation in the skin around the eyes, resulting in a specific form of the condition known as ocular rosacea. Ocular rosacea can result in a worsening of dry eye symptoms, and can present problems in the management of dry eye disease.
More on Rosacea and Dry Eyes
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that is diagnosed and managed by a dermatologist. The condition is relatively common, especially among middle-aged individuals who are fair-skinned. Those affected by rosacea will commonly experience symptoms such as facial redness, bumpy skin, or facial flush. They can also have more noticeable facial blood vessels, and may occasionally develop pus-filled bumps on the nose or face. There is no specific test to diagnose rosacea; instead, a dermatologist diagnoses the condition based on appearance and symptoms. There is no definitive cause for the condition, though may people can identify specific triggers that worsen symptoms and cause flare-ups. Some of the most common triggers include certain foods or alcohols, warm temperatures, exercise, sun exposure, or stress. Recognizing and avoiding triggers are an important part in managing rosacea. Additionally, dermatologists will occasionally recommend facial creams or oral medications in order to reduce inflammation and address symptoms.
Ocular Rosacea and Dryness
The eyelids and skin around the eyes can be affected by this inflammatory condition, resulting in ocular rosacea. When this occurs, the skin around the eyelids can become dry, red, flaky, or puffy. Ocular rosacea is typically found in conjunction with a condition called blepharitis, which is used to describe general inflammation of the eyelids. Meibomian glands around the eyes that are responsible for secreting part of the tears can also become clogged, inflamed, or dysfunctional. Ocular rosacea can worsen already existing dry eye symptoms, such as dryness, burning, grittiness, or watery eyes. In severe cases of the condition, bacterial infections of the eyelids or ocular surface can occur and can result in extreme discomfort. Your optometrist, in conjunction with your dermatologist, can help identify whether ocular rosacea is present, and whether or not it is contributing to symptoms of Dry Eye Disease.
Protecting Your Eyes from Ocular Rosacea
If you have rosacea, there are a few steps you can take to prevent the symptoms of the ocular form of the condition. First and foremost, you should work with your dermatologist to ensure you are doing all you can to control the underlying inflammatory processes. This may include taking specific medications, or working to avoid triggers. Additionally, maintaining proper skin and eyelid hygiene is vital in managing ocular rosacea. Routines including warm compresses and lid scrubs can help to prevent a worsening of dry eye symptoms due to ocular rosacea. Your optometrist can identify signs of ocular rosacea and may recommend treatment options such as artificial tears to improve ocular comfort or additional medications to address eyelid inflammation.