Ocular rosacea may be more common than widely believed, according to Dr. Guy Webster, professor of dermatology at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, who spoke at the recent American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting in San Francisco.
Dr. Webster, whose practice is located near an eye hospital, said about half of his rosacea patients have eye symptoms. The ocular symptoms are often subtle, however, and many patients do not even know they have a problem. "It's only after being treated that they realize rosacea had affected their eyes," he said.
Ocular rosacea sufferers may notice a variety of signs, Dr. Webster reported. Their eyes may feel dry or gritty, and there may be a watery discharge not accompanied by pain or itching, as well as a sense of something in the eye. Visually, there may be a slight blush of the lid margins, and pockets of inflammation may be visible under the lid.
Left untreated, ocular rosacea can lead to plugging of the tear glands, inflammation, scarring and even vision loss in severe cases. Chalazion -- a cyst resulting from plugging of the glands under the eyelids that help keep the eyes lubricated -- is especially common, he said.
As with facial rosacea, early detection and treatment are important, according to Dr. Webster, who said ocular symptoms can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
- Fitzgerald FT. Rosacea: When Flushing or 'Sunburn' May Be Sight-Threatening. Consultant. 1996;36:1399-1404.