This April marks the 19th anniversary of Sjogren’s Awareness Month. Sjogren’s Syndrome (pronounced SHOW-grins) is an autoimmune disease where our body’s immune system attacks itself causing destruction of glands that produce moisture. This leads to dry eye and dry mouth. Sjogren’s can also occur with other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. About 4 million Americans have Sjogren’s and over half of those are undiagnosed.
The eye dryness can cause tired, gritty, sandy feeling eyes with fluctuations in vision. Objects may be clear one moment then blurry the next. Frequent blinking occurs in an attempt to clear the vision. At Coan Eye Care we have special tests to aid in Sjogren’s dry eye diagnosis. Two important tests are Inflammadry, a tear culture that measures the amount of inflammation in the tears and Lipiview, an eyelid imaging device that scans damage to the meibomian glands responsible for producing oil into the tears.
There is no cure for Sjogren’s Syndrome so treatment is designed to manage symptoms and to prevent progression of gland damage. The doctors at Coan Eye Care may elect to treat Sjogren’s dry eye with antiinflammatory medications, neutraceuticals, vectored thermal pulse therapy, or viscoelastic tear drops. It’s important that Sjogren’s patients also coordinate care with their dentist for proper oral care of dry mouth and a rheumatologist to manage any concurrent autoimmune diseases.
If you have dry, gritty eyes with fluctuating vision, call Coan Eye Care for a comprehensive dry eye evaluation. It’s important to start therapy early.