Rosacea is a common condition among the US population, affecting as much as 10% of the population. While the red skin, ruddy cheeks and facial vessels aren’t always a concern for optometrists, patients’ eyes are affected more often than not. Research shows as many as 58% to 72% of rosacea patients have ocular involvement, and 45% to 85% have ocular complaints. Even if patients don’t have ocular involvement, their eyelids can still harbor physiological changes associated with the condition.1-3

New research from the Lions Eye Institute in New York used eyelid specimens from patients with rosacea to discovered increased amounts of the protein nuclear factor kappa-B (NFKB), which may have implications for treatment one day.

The researchers used immunohistochemical staining on eyelid specimens from 12 patients with rosacea and 12 controls. After counting the numbers of positively staining cells within a 40x microscopic field, they found the number of cells that stained positively for the phosphorylated variant of NFKB was 18.4 for control patients and 39.3 for rosacea patients—a statistically significant difference.

“The activated form of NFKB is enriched in rosacea, indicating a role for this pathway in the pathogenesis of this disease. Interference with NFKB signaling may represent a novel therapy for rosacea as clinical agents become available,” the study concludes. 

1. Ghanem VC, Mehra N, Wong S, Mannis M. The prevalence of ocular signs in acne rosacea. Cornea. 2003;22(3):230-3.

2. Donaldson KE, Karp CL, Dunbar MT. Evaluation and treatment of children with ocular rosacea. Cornea. 2007;26(1):42-6.

3. Onaran Z, Karabulut AA, Usta G, Örnek K. Central corneal thickness in patients with mild to moderate rosacea. Can J Ophthalmol. 2012;47(6):504-8.

4. Wladis EJ, Lau KW, Adam AP. Nuclear factor kappa-B is enriched in eyelid specimens of rosacea: implications for pathogenesis and therapy. Am J Ophthalmol. January 28, 2019. [Epub ahead of print.]