Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is a disorder of the immune system that may affect the entire body.  It was first described in 1933 by Dr. Henrik Sjögren and was subsequently named after him.  Sjögren’s affects both males and females and all races and ethnic groups.  It can accompany other immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, but is most commonly associated with dryness of the eyes and mouth.  As it progresses, it damages mucous membranes and moisture secreting glands throughout the body causing a variety of varied symptoms including:

  • Dry eye symptoms such as irritation, burning, grittiness or scratchiness

  • Dryness of the mouth causing difficulty speaking, swallowing or chewing

  • Dry lips, tongue, nose and throat

  • Altered taste or smell

  • Changes in dental health i.e. more cavities

  • Dryness of the skin and vagina

  • Joint pain

  • Fatigue

Sjögren’s syndrome can be difficult to properly diagnose because of the overlap of other immune disorders and the variability of signs and symptoms.  For that reason it is believed that far more patients suffer from the disorder than are actually diagnosed.  In fact, it’s been reported that it takes nearly 5 years before Sjögren’s syndrome is typically diagnosed.  Because Sjögren’s can affect other body systems and is associated with higher risk of lymphoma, prompt diagnosis is important.

 

The recently introduced SJO test from NiCox is a breakthrough that provides more rapid and accurate diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome. We perform this simple test in office as part of a comprehensive dry eye workup when indicated. Results are typically available from the lab within 7-10 working days.

Our primary focus in managing Sjögren’s syndrome is the dry eye and ocular aspects of the disorder.  We work closely with your primary care physician, dentist and rheumatologist to insure that all aspects of the disorder are being properly addressed. 

Many patients with Sjögren’s syndrome have advanced dry eye.  We treat Sjögren’s related dry eye aggressively using state-of-the-art technology and a variety of therapies to restore a healthy ocular surface environment and minimize symptoms.  Many patients have other conditions that worsen their dry eye that can be effectively treated.