When you have rosacea, you probably don’t worry about your eyes too much. However, about 60% of rosacea sufferers also suffer from ocular rosacea, a condition that can severely affect your eyes if it goes unnoticed for too long.
Symptoms of ocular rosacea include red or bloodshot eyes, a burning sensation in the eye and the sensation of a foreign object in the eye. In some cases, these symptoms are not that obvious and for that reason, ocular rosacea can go unnoticed for a long time.
Many people wear contact lenses and so do many people with rosacea. I used to wear soft (oxygen permeable) contact lenses daily since high school and continued to wear contact lenses long after I was first diagnosed with rosacea. I did go to my ophthalmologist every year for check-ups and everything seems fine for about 6 years. I never had any problems wearing contacts and I never had any problems with dry eyes.
Then, after about 6 years of successfully wearing contacts while I had rosacea, my ophthalmologist told me that he noticed a significant proliferation of capillaries within my eye. This “neovascularization” as it is officially called, can in some cases limit or obscure your vision. In order to protect my vision, my only option was to switch to wearing regular glasses on a daily basis and wear my contacts only during sports and perhaps on the weekends.
Although it has not been easy to switch to glasses (expensive, uncomfortable, less peripheral vision), I am glad I did it. On my yearly checkups with the ophthalmologist, I don’t show any signs of rampant proliferation of capillaries any more. I must admit that when you are working on the computer a lot, it is much more comfortable to wear glasses compared to contact lenses.
If you have rosacea and you happen to wear contact lenses on a daily basis, I would highly recommend seeing an ophthalmologist on a regular basis (at a minimum once every year). If your eyes are dry and uncomfortable, use over the counter eye drops. On days that you are wearing contact lenses, make sure that you use drops specifically marked for use with contact lenses.
However, since ocular rosacea affects about 60% of all rosacea patients at one time or another, and not all rosacea sufferers wear contact lenses or glasses, it is still important to have your eyes checked regularly, in particular since ocular rosacea can negatively affect your vision.