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Ocular Rosacea

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What is Rosacea?

Rosacea (pronounced rose-ay-shah) is a skin condition usually affecting the face. Previously it was referred to as acne rosacea because it was thought to be a variation of acne. It is now thought to be a vascular disorder of the skin affecting primarily adults beginning in their 30’s or 40’s. The hallmark is repeated flushing of the skin. Patients may think they have a sunburn, preventing them from seeking medical care. The chronic flushing leads to inflammation, pimples and tissue damage.


Ocular rosacea affects the eyes and happens with about half of all rosacea suffers. Complications can include styes, dry eyes, crusts on the eyelids, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and problems in the cornea. These problems can precede skin involvement in as many as 20% of cases. Diagnosis can be difficult because all of the things that happen with ocular rosacea can happen with many other conditions. Because it is primarily a skin condition that affects the eyes, eye practitioners are most successful treating patients in tandem with a dermatologist. Eye drops, creams, ointments and sometimes oral medications can be used to treat ocular rosacea.


Patients with rosacea are encouraged to use sunblock. Flare-ups can often be controlled if triggers can be identified including types and temperatures of various food and drink. Some find that a regular messaging of the facial skin is beneficial. Medical therapy can include vascular laser treatment. Although not a cure, all of these treatments can help control this long-term condition.

Jace Picken, O.D.


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