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.