Robert Angsten, an Arizona retiree, had symptoms of rosacea for about six years when his wife first noticed some redness in the area of his cheekbones. A dermatologist diagnosed the condition as rosacea. Typical of older men, however, he was unconcerned about his complexion and viewed the rosacea as little more than a nuisance until it began to affect his vision.
When first diagnosed, Robert said his doctor prescribed a topical medication, which he thought was adequately controlling his rosacea. After about a year, however, Robert noticed that his eyes began to water. At this point the dermatologist determined that Robert had also developed a second subtype of rosacea that affects the eyes, called ocular rosacea.
His eye doctor prescribed a course of oral antibiotics for the ocular rosacea, but within months Robert's vision had deteriorated to the point where he had trouble reading the newspaper because of excessive blurring.
"I'm a crossword puzzle addict and I couldn't even read the clues anymore," Robert said. "That went on for a couple of months while I continued to see my regular ophthalmologist (eye doctor). He finally got to where he said, 'I'm throwing in the towel.'"
Robert's ophthalmologist referred him to another eye specialist, who diagnosed a malfunction of the oil glands in the upper lid, a common symptom of ocular rosacea. The specialist told him that a microscopic layer of oil over the cornea is essential in the eye's ability to focus. To unplug the glands, the doctor prescribed a short-term course of a carefully metered oral antibiotic and a steroid eye drop solution, followed by a maintenance program of artificial tears and a lubricating ointment.
"Through this combination, he was able to restore my vision completely," Robert said. "The oil glands in my eyelids seem to be functioning at near-normal levels now."