Red eyes often go hand in hand with red faces for many people with rosacea, as many develop the ocular form of the disorder in addition to facial symptoms. Fortunately, the effects of ocular rosacea can be successfully controlled with medical help and appropriate eye care.
In a recent National Rosacea Society survey, 61 percent of nearly 1,400 respondents said they had suffered eye symptoms such as a watery or bloodshot appearance, a gritty feeling, or burning or itching.
"Ocular rosacea is often overlooked because it may develop separately from the facial signs and symptoms of the disorder," said Dr. Guy Webster, professor of dermatology at Thomas Jefferson University Medical College. "Specific treatment for this condition may be essential, and a daily eye care routine can also reduce discomfort."
Visually, an eye affected by rosacea often appears simply watery or bloodshot. Some patients may feel as though there is something in their eyes, or have a dry, burning or stinging sensation. In severe cases, ocular rosacea may include swollen blood vessels; inflammation of the eyelid, iris or the whites of the eyes; sties or cysts, and in severe cases even loss of vision.
Physicians usually treat ocular rosacea with oral antibiotics and other therapies. In addition, a number of steps can be taken to help soothe and prevent irritation and discomfort.
- Clean carefully the area surrounding the eye. Just as with a facial care routine, daily eye care starts with removing all eye makeup, using a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser and rinsing with lukewarm water several times to make sure the eye area is completely clean. Blot dry gently with a soft cotton towel. After the eye area air-dries for a few moments, use a gentle moisturizer on the lids and underneath the eyes.
- Ask your doctor about using a tearing agent. If eye dryness or a gritty feeling is a problem, talk to the doctor about using a special agent to moisten the eyes. Preservative-free artificial tears applied several times a day can help eliminate that dry, gritty feeling. Do not use any over-the-counter products for red or irritated eyes unless the doctor recommends it.
- Apply warm compresses and gently massage the eyelids. Not only will this feel refreshing, but massaging the eyelids will help loosen any debris in the tear glands and stimulate circulation. This can be especially soothing after a long day at work, or being outside in the cold and wind.
- Wear UV sunglasses outdoors. They protect your eyes from harmful rays of the sun, and act as a shield against wind and other elements. Sunglasses without UV protection may actually make the condition worse.
If you have facial rosacea and are now having problems with your eyes, ask your doctor whether you should see an ophthalmologist.