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Ocular Rosacea

Rosacea is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic skin issues.  It gets its name from the pink or red rash that occurs on the face. There are four subtypes of rosacea that are categorized by what affect they have on the body. Three of the subtypes primarily affect the skin. The last one is ocular rosacea, a disease of the eye. The three skin rosacea diseases can also cause ocular rosacea. It normally presents itself on the face, chest, and eyes, of course. Women have rosacea more than men, but when men contract the disease it is often more severe.

Ocular rosacea (OR) first appears as a reddening of the nose, cheeks, and upper chest. Eventually, it causes red and dry eyes. It also leads to blepharitis, swollen eyelids. One may feel pain or like there is a foreign object in the eye. Severe OR causes the cornea to become inflamed. This can lead to ulceration and scarring, making it more likely that the cornea becomes infected. This can eventually lead to blindness if not treated with a corneal transplant. At this stage, the skin might become bumpy and hard and may develop lesions.  

Doctors are not sure about the cause of rosacea. Tests have shown that patients have a higher concentration of certain enzymes or proteins. Bacteria have not been shown to cause all cases of the disease despite antibiotics having a positive effect on patients. This may be because a side effect of antibiotics is inhibiting the enzymes that are found in excess in rosacea patients. There are some cases in which high levels of intestinal bacteria are shown which might possibly cause the disease.

OR can be a very difficult disease to manage. There’s no cure, and once you contract the disease symptoms worsen throughout life. Severe symptoms come episodically. They can be brought about by sunburn, temperature fluctuations, exercise, allergens or stress. Consuming alcohol, spices or caffeine can also set off an episode, and thus might have to be avoided. Some medications and steroids are known to cause temporary cases of rosacea.

A cold compress can be used to lessen the itchiness and burning, while a hot compress can be used to reduce blepharitis. Debris and oil secretions are apart of blepharitis. Cleaning these with baby shampoo will help keep eyelid swelling to a minimum.  Artificial tears are used to keep the eyes lubricated. Steroid or antibiotic topical cream can help reduce redness and keep glands from being clogged. Oral antibiotics can also be prescribed. Surgeries are available to help reduce the amount of tears that drain from the eye in order to keep them moist. Laser surgery can help reduce redness and swelling in affected areas of the skin.