The signs and symptoms of rosacea can vary greatly from one patient to another, and sometimes the symptoms can be so unexpected that diagnosis is delayed. Such was the case for Terri Flynn, a 63-year-old part-time receptionist from Texas. Lacking the telltale facial signs of rosacea, Terri suffered through years of red, watery eyes before she finally learned she had rosacea.
"About 10 years ago, I started getting styes. I wore contacts, and my physician blamed it on that," Terri said. However, her doctor said he didn't normally treat styes.
She received no treatment until five years later when her eyes began to tear up constantly. Two different evaluators told her she had "dry eye" and prescribed artificial tears and various eye medications, while one also suggested she have her bottom eyelids lifted to help retain the moisture in her eyes.
"Nothing worked," Terri said. "Finally, I typed the words 'red watery eyes' into an Internet search engine, and rosacea was the first thing that came up."
She made an appointment with a dermatologist, who "took one look at me and said, 'Yes, it's rosacea.'" He started her on a course of oral antibiotics to treat the eye symptoms of subtype 4 (ocular) rosacea, which she said provided relief within days.
Terri later developed the facial signs of rosacea, and today she follows a course of oral and topical rosacea therapy. She also continues to use artificial tears in addition to a gentle cleanser to wash her eyelids. Occasionally, she applies an eye ointment to ease intermittent itching.
Cold, windy weather causes Terri's rosacea to flare up, and she has also pinpointed salty foods such as potato chips or peanuts as a trigger in her particular case. She noted that on the rare occasions she eats these snacks she breaks out in big welts all around her chin.
Yet, Terri is able to manage her rosacea so well that she said usually the only sign she sees is a red nose after she washes her face at night. In fact, her condition has improved so much that her doctor has cleared her to start wearing contact lenses again.