Dry eye disease and the associated ocular discomfort is incredibly common in a city as dry as Calgary and especially for those who wear contact lenses. But it might surprise you to know that although dry eyes may be exacerbated by the climate, excessive screen time, or our contact lenses, it can also be caused by another related condition – rosacea.

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterized by a variety of features including periodic or constant facial redness and flushing, papules and pustules, and visible facial blood vessels. Higher rates have been noted in women and those of Celtic or Northern European descent. Rosacea has four subtypes, one of which is ocular rosacea or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Meibomian glands are the glands found within our upper and lower lids that are responsible for producing the oily layer of our tear film. It’s this layer that keeps our tears moist and prevents them from evaporating. It then follows that if those glands are inflamed, obstructed, and dysfunctional as they are in MGD, the oily layer then may not be the right quality or quantity leading to evaporation of the tear film and thus dry and poorly lubricated eyes. MGD can occur on its own or in combination with other forms of facial rosacea, and because the pathophysiology of the rosacea subtypes is related, treatments for one form of rosacea may create a pathway to treatment for some of the other presentations.

At Sphere, we have many tools in our toolkit to manage not only ocular rosacea, but facial rosacea as well, and we love to combine these tools into a bespoke plan to best manage your facial and ocular conditions. We will often use professional grade topical eye drops, eyelid treatments, and skin care, and we are also able to make dietary and lifestyle recommendations and add oral medications if necessary. We also often use intense pulsed light therapy (IPL) via the Lumecca platform by InMode Aesthetics to specifically target and reduce the vascular inflammation and redness associated with rosacea, and other pigmentary concerns of the skin. Radiofrequency (RF) via the Forma technology by InMode, is also an effective advanced management tool and helps to improve MGD via the application of deep heat to melt the oils in the glands and improve the consistency and quality of the oils for the tear film.  Radiofrequency also helps to stimulate collagen and elastin, so you may find yourself looking more refreshed after a Forma treatment. We call that a win!

If you would like to know more about the possible connection between rosacea and MGD, if you struggle with dry eye symptoms, or if you are interested in our advanced treatment offerings, please connect with us to book an appointment, or visit Sphere anytime!