A Diagnostic Test for Ocular Rosacea

Written by on December 1, 2005 in ocular rosacea with 5 Comments

There is no established diagnostic test for ocular rosacea. This holds back both the treatment and research into ocular rosacea.

This research was funded by the NRS ; in 2004 Dr. Mannis and Dr. Alvarenga received $21,419 to study tear film alterations in ocular rosacea. Oligosaccharides are short chain sugar molecules.

This research might well lead to the creation of a definitive diagnostic test for ocular rosacea.

The paper’s conclusion “The high abundance of oligosaccharides in the tear fluid of patients with rosacea may lead to an objective diagnostic marker for the disease.” is good news for ocular rosacea sufferers.

A related patent to this research is described here: Ocular rosacea: Oligosaccharide Based Treatments

Glycomics Analyses of Tear Fluid for the Diagnostic Detection of Ocular Rosacea,

Journal Proteome Research, 2005 Dec 12;4(6):1981-1987,

An HJ, Ninonuevo M, Aguilan J, Liu H, Lebrilla CB, Alvarenga LS, Mannis MJ, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.

Abstract: A Glycomics approach to detect disease is illustrated in the analyses of human tear fluid for rosacea.

The diagnosis of ocular rosacea is particularly challenging in a subgroup of patients that do not present with typical facial skin findings but have ocular signs and symptoms. Indeed, up to 90% of patients with ocular rosacea may have neither obvious roseatic skin changes nor a previous diagnosis of rosacea.

Tear fluid was collected from 37 subjects (21 controls and 16 patients with ocular rosacea) after conjunctival stimulation with filter (Schirmer) paper.

O-linked oligosaccharides were released from tear fluid by -elimination and then purified using solid-phase extraction. Mass spectra were recorded on an external source HiResMALDI with a 7.0 T magnet. Mass spectra were obtained in both the positive and negative modes. However, signals were stronger in the negative mode.

Tear fluid samples from rosacea patients yielded distinctive clusters of peaks that extend to higher masses.

Patients with rosacea presented several oligomeric series that were not found in the controls. To discriminate the ocular rosacea cases from the normal controls, the sum of absolute intensities of 13 series corresponding to nearly 50 identified mass spectrum peaks was used.

Thirty-six out of the 37 samples were correctly classified. This yields a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI 79.5-100) and specificity of 95.2% (95% CI 76.2-99.9).

The high abundance of oligosaccharides in the tear fluid of patients with rosacea may lead to an objective diagnostic marker for the disease.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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5 Reader Comments

  1. carole anthony says:

    What is the treatment for ocular rosaces?

  2. David Pascoe says:

    Hi Carole,

    Lid scrubs and compresses, oral and topical antibiotics are some of usual starting points. See Treating Ocular Rosacea for more information.


  3. Lori says:

    2 questions please,
    Is Meimbomian gland dysfunction and Ocular Rosacea the same?
    I am having splitting headaches in the right eye and frontal head. Is this related to one of these disorders?
    I have been given Systane Balance also and dx with Meimbomian dysfunction but eye doctor thinks it is Ocular Rosacea because I battle with facial Rosacea. Should I seek further treatment and dx?
    Sorry that’s 3 questions…

  4. David Pascoe says:

    Hi Lori,

    Like facial rosacea, the term ocular rosacea is a bit of an umbrella term. Meibomian gland dysfunction is not the same thing as rosacea, but is often related to it.

    An ophthalmologist ought to be able to help you treat both conditions.

    The official classification system for ocular rosacea says:

    The diagnosis of ocular rosacea should be considered when a patient’s eyes have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

    watery or bloodshot appearance (interpalpebral conjunctival hyperemia),
    foreign body sensation,
    burning or stinging,
    light sensitivity,
    blurred vision,
    telangiectases of the conjunctiva and lid margin, or lid and
    periocular erythema.

    Also “Meibomian gland dysfunction presenting as chalazion or chronic staphylococcal infection as manifested by hordeolum (stye) are common signs of rosacea-related ocular disease.”


  5. Liz lee says:

    I am looking for a doctor in the Dallas area that has expertise in the treatment of ocular rosecea. Can anyone suggest one?

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