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  • Writer's pictureDr. Zimski

Underdiagnosed and Misunderstood: Can Ocular Rosacea Impact Your Eyes?

Ocular rosacea is an often underdiagnosed condition that can significantly impact your eyes. 

While rosacea typically manifests as facial redness, bumps, and flushing, its ocular counterpart affects the eyes and can lead to a range of symptoms, from mild irritation to severe vision problems.

Understanding Ocular Rosacea

Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a chronic (ongoing) inflammatory skin condition that primarily affects the face, causing it to get red. 

Sometimes rosacea affects the eyes. This is called ocular rosacea, and its signs and symptoms can include:


  1. Dryness and Irritation: Ocular rosacea often presents with a persistent feeling of dryness, grittiness, and irritation in the eyes.

  2. Redness and Swelling: Similar to its skin counterpart, ocular rosacea can cause redness and swelling in the eyes and eyelids.

  3. Burning and Stinging Sensation: Patients often experience a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, which can be particularly distressing.

  4. Light SensitivityPhotophobia, or sensitivity to light, is a hallmark symptom of ocular rosacea. Bright lights can exacerbate discomfort and pain.

  5. Blurry Vision: Ocular rosacea can lead to vision problems, including blurry vision (which often fluctuates) and difficulty focusing.

Some people have rosacea affecting their skin without having symptoms of ocular rosacea. Others have ocular rosacea, but their skin isn’t affected. Others have both forms of rosacea. Women are also more likely than men to have rosacea.

What Causes Ocular Rosacea?

Rosacea may be inherited or it could have environmental causes. Swelling blood vessels that cause redness and flushing can also be caused by bacteria or mites clogging oil glands. 

A flare-up can be triggered by:

  • Heat, sun, wind or cold

  • Overexertion

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Eating spicy foods

  • Drinking hot beverages

  • Feeling stressed or anxious

ocular rosacea

The Importance of Awareness


Increasing awareness about ocular rosacea is crucial for early detection and management. One of the primary reasons for ocular rosacea being underdiagnosed is that many eye doctors and dermatologists are not looking for it. This often leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment. 

If you suffer from eye or eyelid redness, swelling of your eyelids, frequent styes, irritation, or foreign body sensation, it is important to see an ophthalmologist skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of ocular rosacea.

Treatment for Ocular Rosacea

While there is no cure for rosacea, our office can help you control and treat the symptoms. These treatments might include:

  • Steroid eye drops

  • Antibiotic pills

  • Artificial tears

  • Eyelid scrubs

Our office also offers ocular rosacea patients intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. This FDA-approved laser gives safe, comfortable treatment administered with precision and control.

In addition to ocular rosacea, IPL is for patients with dry eye, blepharitis, or meibomian gland dysfunction. 

IPL improves meibomian gland function, resulting in less inflammation and less evaporation of the tear film—a common problem in our dry Colorado environment.

When you’re ready to find relief from ocular rosacea, dry eye syndrome, or other issues affecting your eyes, book an appointment with our office and we’ll get you started on the path to recovery!




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