Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune condition in which white blood cells attack and destroy glands responsible for keeping the eyes, mouth, and other areas of the body well-lubricated. Although the disease can develop in anyone, it is more prevalent in Caucasian women, and typically diagnosed between the ages of 40-60. There are two forms of Sjogren’s disease – primary, which occurs alone and secondary, which occurs with other autoimmune diseases (I.e rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus). Regardless of the type, dry eye and dry mouth are the most common and distinctive symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Other Symptoms Include:
- Joint Pain
- Dry/Sore Skin
- Dry/Peeling Lips
- Light Sensitivity
- Vaginal Dryness
- Sore Mouth, Tongue, Throat
- Difficulty Chewing/Swallowing
- Dry Sinuses/Nose Bleeds
- Contact Lens Intolerance
- Gritty/Burning Sensation of Eyes
Dry eye syndrome secondary to Sjogren’s is commonly aqueous deficient, meaning the lacrimal and accessory tear glands are not producing adequate tears to lubricate the ocular surface. Often patients are parked in front of a computer screen all day, and consequently, suffer from the evaporative form of dry eye disease as well. In this form, the tears produced are of poor quality/consistency and therefore evaporate quickly.
Your doctor can diagnose dry eye disease secondary to Sjogren’s using a variety of dyes to test tear quality and by measuring the quantity of tears you produce. Treatment methods vary based on form and severity, but can include: omega-3 supplements, artificial tears, prescription/therapeutic eye drops, increased water intake, warm compresses, and humidifiers. Systemic treatment methods include: nasal sprays, smoking cessation, and hard candies/sugarless gum to keep your mouth lubricated.
Bottom line- dry eye disease is not always limited to just your eyes. Our doctors can help determine if you are suffering from Sjogren’s Syndrome (a systemic condition) as well! Schedule an appointment today.
Aamena Kazmi, OD
The Dry Eye Doctor at BFEC