Making the time to perform a warm water eye soak each morning could be difficult for someone who knows she can’t be late to her job as a dental hygienist, but for 59-year-old Carol Christensen from Minnesota, the effort is well worth it. “Having comfortable eyes is really bliss,” she said.
Carol was diagnosed with rosacea in her early 40s when intense and frequent menopausal hot flashes triggered lingering facial flushing. She managed her symptoms well for years following a short course of oral therapy and long-term topical therapy.
But as she approached age 50, Carol noticed that her eyes were becoming chronically red and irritated, and her contact lenses began to feel gritty minutes after she put them in. The head of ophthalmology at her eye clinic confirmed that her rosacea had progressed to subtype 4, ocular rosacea.1
“That’s when my regimen changed dramatically,” Carol said. She began a five-minute eye soak every morning, followed by a prescription eyedrop and application of prescribed topical therapy to her eyelids as well as other trouble spots on her face.
She repeats the eye soak at night, along with the eyedrops. She occasionally uses artificial tears and drops recommended by her eye doctor when her eyes become particularly itchy.
Carol said this regimen has allowed her to manage her rosacea symptoms so well that they rarely are the topic of conversation, even though she is in the public eye every day. To the contrary, Carol said she is usually the one to bring up her condition if she notices signs of rosacea in one of her patients.
“I’ll say, ‘It looks like you might have the same skin condition I have,’ and I will give them some information about rosacea, refer them to the National Rosacea Society and suggest they see a dermatologist,” she said. “I’ve even had patients come back and thank me for letting them know about rosacea.”
In addition to consistently following her eye-care regimen and using her medication as prescribed, Carol said she does her best to avoid her three worst triggers: heat, wind and cold. She tends to stay out of the sun, but wears a wide-brimmed hat or even uses an umbrella when she has to be outdoors.
Carol passed along some advice she received from her ophthalmologist after she told him she had missed the eye soak only twice since her previous visit: “Don’t skip it.”
“Sticking with a consistent regimen is what enables me to stay focused on all the other things that life offers up,” Carol said.
1. Wilkin J, Dahl M, Detmar M, Drake L, Feinstein A, Odom R, Powell F. Standard classification of rosacea: Report of the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee on the classification and staging of rosacea. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2002;46:584-587.