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Getting to Know Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes excessive dryness throughout the body.  It affects nearly four million Americans, with nine out of 10 Sjogren’s patients being female.  Common symptoms include dry eye, dry mouth, fatigue and joint pain.  These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to functional debilitation.  In the most serious cases, Sjogren’s can result in organ dysfunction or the development of lymphomas.  Approximately fifty percent of the time Sjogren’s is associated with another autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Sjogren’s Syndrome results in a specific type of dry eye that is caused by damage to the tear producing lacrimal glands associated with each eye.  The tear film becomes unstable, causing a sandy/foreign body sensation, pain, intermittent blurry vision and redness.  Without treatment, the tear film becomes progressively less stable resulting in additional damage to the ocular surface and worsening symptoms.

An eye care professional can run a battery of tests to determine whether you have dry eye and coordinate additional tests through your primary care physician to determine a diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome.  Your eye care professional can initiate dry eye treatment, which can include artificial tears, warm compresses, prescription eye drops and/or punctal occlusion.

Sources:

http://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/conditions/dry_eye.html

Steven Wang, OD
OCOS Public Relations