Sjögren’s Syndrome vs. Dry Eyes

Posted by Dr. Danny P. Malone on Mar 9, 2016 8:30:00 AM

I see quite a number of patients reporting dry eye syndrome. With over three million cases treated each year and 5% of Americans complaining of some form of dry eye, you can see why.

eye_drops.jpgI don’t see nearly as many with Sjögren’s syndrome. First, because it’s not as common with roughly 200,000 cases per year in the United States. However, it can be much more problematic since the disease itself can’t be cured. But there are treatments that can alleviate the symptoms.

What Is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

It is an autoimmune disease with a broad effect on a patient’s health. With this disease the white blood cells attack all moisture producing glands throughout the body. One big impact is the reduced production of saliva and tears.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms include dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue, and joint pain. This disease can also impact the kidneys, liver, and pancreas as well as the gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, and central nervous system. There is also an increased risk of developing lymphoma.

While it can occur alone, and does so in roughly half the cases, it is also common with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma. While early diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing serious complications, it is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. You can find out more at Mayo Clinic tests and diagnosis.

What Are the Treatments?

Many patients can successfully manage their symptoms with over-the-counter artificial tear eye drops and drinking more water. Prescription eye drops such as cyclosporine can reduce the inflammation in the glands around the eyes, increasing tear production. There are many more possibilities for medication to help with nasal dryness and other symptoms of the disease.

A surgical option is to seal the tear ducts, preventing draining from the eyes. This can be accomplished temporarily with collagen plugs that dissolve over time or silicone plugs that can be removed. Laser surgery can be used to permanently seal the tear ducts.

Where Can I Find Out More?

I like the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation website for more information and support. I feel that their video titled Sjögren’s Syndrome: A Place to Begin is very helpful for newly diagnosed patients.

You can also find a great deal of information on the Mayo Clinic website.

Can Vision Source Plano Help?

Yes we can. I’ve been treating dry eye for over 30 years. I’ve even established a dry eye center in my practice. I can help you find relief from your symptoms and guide you in your eye health care. I’ve worked with many patients just like you and brought them not only quick relief, but helped them develop a long-term treatment program.

The first step is to give us a call at 972-612-2099.

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Topics: Sjögren’s Syndrome, dry eye