The Link Between Dry Eyes and Rosacea

Ocular rosacea (i.e., rosacea that affects your eyes) might be the first sign that you’re at risk for a chronic, auto-inflammatory skin condition called rosacea. Rosacea affects more than 415 million people around the world, and is characterized by reddish patches around the cheeks and nose, easy blushing, and skin that may become thickened, veiny, and bumpy.

Though nobody knows what causes rosacea, it tends to afflict those with fair skin, usually manifesting when you’re in your thirties. Imtiaz Ahmad, MD treats rosacea with light therapies at Comprehensive Vein Treatment Center in Trenton, New Jersey. Here he shares a few insights on how to manage ocular rosacea, which may be a first symptom in 20% of rosacea cases.

Allergies, or rosacea?

Ocular rosacea symptoms may be confused with other conditions, including allergies, but you can have both allergies and ocular rosacea at the same time. Some cases of skin and ocular rosacea may also be caused by an allergic reaction to the bacteria inside of Demodex folliculorum mites, which can live on your skin, including your eyelids.

Classic signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea include:

An ophthalmologist can differentiate between allergies and rosacea and give you a needed diagnosis and treatment plan. If you have ocular rosacea and notice that your skin is chronically pink or red, or if you have acne-like lesions on your skin, arrange for a consultation at Comprehensive Vein Treatment Center. 

Managing and treating ocular rosacea

If you have ocular rosacea, your doctor may give you eye drops that contain steroids to reduce the inflammation, or recommend antibiotics to kill Demodex mite bacteria on your eyelids and skin. They may advise you to gently clean your eyes daily with a soft washcloth and baby shampoo to remove oil that could clog your glands. You can also use artificial tears that keep your eyes moist, but don’t use eye drops that are designed to remove redness because these could worsen your condition.

You can manage ocular rosacea by adopting the same kind of lifestyle adjustments that are needed to control skin rosacea flares. The first step is to keep a diary so you can identify your own personal triggers, which may include:

Although rosacea can’t yet be cured, lifestyle adjustments, antibiotics, steroids, and light-based treatments can reverse skin manifestations and control flares.

Treating skin rosacea

One of the most effective treatments for skin rosacea is light-based therapy that targets the excessive hemoglobin in rosacea lesions and damaged blood vessels. If you’ve ever had a laser treatment before, your doctor gave you protective goggles to wear so that the laser wouldn’t harm your eyes. Laser and light-based therapies, therefore, aren’t appropriate for ocular rosacea, but they effectively reverse skin-related rosacea symptoms, such as:

Dr. Ahmad uses the FDA-cleared BroadBand Light therapy (BBL™) by Sciton® and intense pulsed light (IPL) to clarify and improve the health of your skin if you have rosacea. Both BBL and IPL have the added benefits of removing other unwanted hyperpigmentation, including age spots and freckles. 

He may also prescribe medications that resolve both skin and ocular rosacea symptoms, including antibiotics to kill mites and steroids to reduce inflammation. 

To find out if your red, dry eyes are another rosacea symptom, and to get relief for your reddened skin, contact Dr. Ahamad today. Give our friendly office staff a call at 609-890-2966 or send us an online message.

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