Dry Eye is a common precursor to Ocular Rosacea

Written by on March 23, 2011 in dry eye, Ocular Rosacea with 5 Comments

This abstract suggests that dry eye may be an early sign of ocular rosacea. Tear function tests could help the early diagnosis of ocular rosacea, according to the authors.

Currently there is no definitive diagnostic test for ocular rosacea, it is based on clinical symptoms. One proposed diagnostic test is high abundance of oligosaccharides in the tear fluid of patients with rosacea.


Schirmer Test: determines whether the eye produces enough tears to keep it moist.

TBUT: Tear Break up Time, the time required for dry spots to appear on the corneal surface after blinking.


Clinical and laboratory study of ocular rosacea in northern Greece.

Lazaridou E, Fotiadou C, Ziakas N, Giannopoulou C, Apalla Z, Ioannides D., J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2011 Mar 2.

First Departments of Dermatology-VenereologyOphthalmology, Aristotle University Medical School, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Background: The prevalence of ophthalmic involvement in rosacea is probably higher than previously presumed and varies considerably among several studies. Objective This study aimed to determine the incidence of ocular disease among a population of rosacea patients in Northern Greece, to objectively determine the presence of eye dryness in rosacea patients with and without clinical ophthalmic involvement and correlate the severity of ocular disease with the severity of cutaneous rosacea.

Methods: One hundred patients with rosacea were assessed for the stage of their disease and examined for ocular symptoms and signs. In 24 of them the tear break up time (TBUT) and Schirmer test were performed in each eye, along with 24 controls.

Results: A total of 33 patients (33%) were positive for ophthalmic findings. The most frequent symptoms and signs were burning sensation and tearing, and conjunctivitis and blepharitis, respectively. Eleven patients with ophthalmic manifestations had mild to moderate erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, 17 had moderate papulopustular rosacea and four exhibited findings of phymatous rosacea. The total mean value of patients’ Schirmer tests was significantly lower compared with the healthy controls (P < 0.0001). Mean TBUT was shorter in the rosacea group than that in the age-matched controls (P < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Ocular involvement in rosacea is a common phenomenon with eye dryness being an early sign. Tear function tests, like Schirmer test and TBUT, although not specific, could contribute to the screening and early diagnosis of the disease, to prevent the potential development of sight-threatening conditions.

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Read more about: dry eye, Ocular Rosacea

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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. liz kemp says:

    I have mild SLE, I always thought the rash and dry eye was to do with lupus. but reading up it looks more like rosacea and reading about the test for ocular Rosacea can i get screened at my own opticians.The rash on my face is getting worse and is on my forhead cheeks and nose.

    can you advice

    thank you liz

  2. payam says:

    Hi everybody
    Any idea whether Fish oil helps in fighting rosacea ?

  3. Hi Payam,

    There is some evidence that flaxseed oil and omega 3s are good supplement for ocular rosacea.

    Here are some anecdotal reports Omega 3 Flaxseed Oil Benefits Rosacea Skin?.


  4. jeanettesavill says:

    are you able to help me ,i have been diagonased with ocular rosacea and blepharites . for some years now, i was diagonased with this condition after a accident cleaning , my eyes were fine before this , so i did receive compenastion but now the industrial injuries have turned me down ,because my eye condition can be ok sometimes and then ,have bad flares up , i explained this to the examiner but didnt seem intrested , my eyes need to be washed and cleaned in order to maintain my condition what is a good eye examination because thats all he did was shine a torch and chart test

  5. coniston says:

    Hello I was at the hospital 5 days ago at the opthamologist I have had dry eyes for 15 year I was advised by the opthamologist last week to hold a warm cloth to my eyes in the morning but since the cloth would bring on more redness. I am doing one eye at a time, 5 min each eye. the other I was told was to purchase omega 3 full strength and putting flaxseed on breakfast cereals. One of my eye test showed I wasnt making tears the count was down to 1.
    He mentioned the word inflamtion also which is what I tell my family I have on my face. I am hopeing this will help my skin also I have to go back in 3 month,he also said I should see a difference with the warm cloth in 2 weeks.

    I feel more optimistic than I have since all this started so keeping my fingers crossed.

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