Swollen eyelids, bloodshot eyes, or a feeling that you have something in your eyes could mean that you have rosacea in your eyes.

People who have rosacea are often unaware that it can also develop in their eyes. As a result, symptoms, such as irritated or dry eyes, are often overlooked. In fact, many people mistakenly believe that something else, such as allergies or contact lenses, is causing their eye problems.

One of the benefits of seeing a dermatologist for rosacea and keeping all of your follow-up appointments is that you can catch eye problems early. More than half of all people who have rosacea will develop symptoms in their eyes at some point.

The medical name for this condition is ocular rosacea.

You may have ocular rosacea if you notice any of the following problems with your eyes:

  • Swollen, red eyelids (most common sign)
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis)
  • Redness and swelling around your eyes
  • Crusty eyelids or eyelashes
  • Tearing (or dry eyes)
  • A feeling you have something in your eye
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Sensitivity to light

Even when the rosacea on your skin is mild, you can develop serious eye problems.

If you notice any problem with your eyes, make an appointment to see your dermatologist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor) right away. When rosacea affects your eyes, treatment becomes essential. Without treatment, you may develop problems with your eyesight.

Treatment for ocular rosacea

When caught early, your dermatologist can often create a treatment plan for your eyes. You’ll likely need to treat it at home by:

  • Applying warm compresses
  • Cleansing with a gentle, eye cleanser
  • Using eye drops and eye medication

Some patients need to take an antibiotic.

Your dermatologist may also refer you to an ophthalmologist for a check-up or further treatment. This is more likely if you have moderate or severe ocular rosacea.

Follow your treatment plan

When rosacea affects your eyes, it’s important to follow your treatment plan. You may need to wash your eyelids several times a day and use eye medication. This can seem tedious, but it’s essential to treat your eyes as often as directed.

You’ll also want to keep all of your follow-up appointments so that your dermatologist can see how you are responding to treatment.

By following all of your dermatologist’s instructions, you can relieve symptoms and prevent problems with your eyesight.


Pelle MT. “Rosacea.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:703-9.

Vieira AC and Mannis MJ. “Ocular rosacea: Common and commonly missed.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013;69:S36-41.

Webster G, Schaller M. “Ocular rosacea: A dermatologic perspective.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013;69(6 Suppl 1):S42-3.