Ocular rosacea


Ocular rosacea is characterized by inflammation leading to redness, burning, and itching in the eyes. It often emerges in individuals with rosacea, a chronic skin condition primarily affecting the face. In some instances, ocular rosacea may manifest as the initial indication preceding the development of facial rosacea. Typically affecting adults aged 30 to 50, it appears more commonly in individuals prone to blushing or flushing. While there is no permanent cure, managing symptoms can be achieved through medications, proper eye care practices, and trigger avoidance.

Ocular rosacea is also known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).


Ocular rosacea manifests symptoms affecting the eyes and the surrounding area, leading to irritation, pain, itchiness, and discomfort in the eyes and the adjacent skin. These symptoms can occur before, during, or after the onset of skin symptoms related to rosacea, or they may appear independently.

Generally, common symptoms include:

  • Watering, itchy, red, or burning eyes
  • Blepharitis, or eyelid swelling/inflammation
  • Grittiness or the sensation that something unusual is in one or both of the eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Photophobia, or light sensitivity
  • Visible dilated small blood vessels on the white of the eye when looking in a mirror
  • Crusty discharge in the eyelashes
  • Recurrent infections of the eyes or eyelids, such as chalazia, sties, blepharitis, or conjunctivitis
  • Redness or discoloration around the eyes

If any of the signs and symptoms persist, consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Periodic eye examinations to monitor for the presence of ocular rosacea is necessary among those who have already been diagnosed with skin rosacea. Worsening symptoms or increased frequency of flare-ups should also be consulted with a healthcare provider. In case of severe symptoms such as intense pain, double or blurry vision, dizziness, or loss of vision, seek immediate medical attention at the emergency room.


The exact cause of ocular rosacea remains uncertain, though experts propose several potential factors, including genetics, bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, environmental irritants, circulatory issues leading to swollen blood vessels, blocked eyelid glands, and eyelash mites.

Certain circumstances and conditions are recognized as potential triggers for the disease, including:

  • Exposure to UV light, such as sunlight or tanning beds
  • Extreme weather conditions, like heat, wind, or cold
  • Stress or anger, and other specific emotions
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Consumption of spicy foods
  • Extreme exercise

Risk factors

Ocular rosacea can impact anyone, but certain groups are more prone to developing it, such as:

  • Adults aged 30 to 50
  • Individuals with skin rosacea
  • Fair-skinned individuals of Celtic and Northern European descent