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Rosacea and Your Eyes

Rosacea-and-Your-Eye

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that primarily affects the face, causing redness, visible blood vessels, and sometimes small red bumps. The exact cause is unknown, but genetics, immune system dysregulation, abnormal blood vessel development, protein malfunction, and skin or gut microbiome dysbiosis have all been identified as possibly playing a role. Certain environmental or dietary factors, like sun exposure, spicy food, and alcohol consumption, can trigger symptoms and cause a flare up of inflammation.

For some people, inflammation can extend to the eyes, leading to a condition known as Ocular Rosacea. 

Ocular Rosacea affects the eyes and eyelids. Symptoms include:

  • Redness on lid margin
  • Dry, red eyes
  • Burning sensation
  • Itchy, gritty eyes 
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

If left unmanaged, ocular rosacea can progress to more severe conditions, including chronic Dry Eye Disease (DED), Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), corneal inflammation, and scarring.

It is important to consult with an eye specialist for a thorough eye checkup and to discuss prevention and management options. 

A personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific symptoms may include a combination of approaches.

1. Medication

Antibiotics, either topical or oral, may be prescribed to address eyelid inflammation. Preservative-free artificial tear drops and ointments are used to alleviate dry eye symptoms. Steroid and steroid-sparing eyedrops help to control ocular surface inflammation.

2. Lifestyle Adjustments

Keeping a diary to identify and manage your triggers such as sunlight exposure, spicy foods, dairy, foods high in Niacin (e.g., turkey, peanuts, tuna), and alcohol consumption (particularly red wine). As part of eye treatment, it’s advised to adopt a gentle skin care routine, and avoiding harsh eye makeup can help relieve symptoms.

3. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy

Traditionally used for cosmetic purposes like hair removal and skin rejuvenation, IPL has emerged as an effective treatment for ocular rosacea and rosacea with prominent skin redness and blood vessels. IPL is a non-invasive procedure that emits controlled high-intensity light pulses that selectively target the superficial abnormal blood vessels and reduce inflammation on the skin and eyelids. As a result of absorbing light energy, blood vessels constrict and redness is reduced. Additionally, IPL stimulates collagen production, which facilitates healing and improves skin health. This makes it effective in managing the vascular and inflammatory components associated with rosacea and can improve both skin and eye symptoms, providing a comprehensive solution.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to ocular rosacea, it is important to consult with an eye specialist for a thorough eye checkup. Skin type, medical history, and the severity of ocular rosacea are essential factors considered by your  eye care clinic in determining the most appropriate treatment plan for you.