Sjogren’s Syndrome Patients Who Suffer from Dry Eye Explained
Sjogren’s syndrome is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect every aspect of your life. It may occur alone or with another autoimmune disease of the connective tissue, such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, or lupus. Sjogren’s is misdiagnosed relatively often because of the similarities between its symptoms and those of other conditions and disease. You should be proactive in talking about your symptoms with your doctor to ensure a correct and timely diagnosis.
Does Sjogren’s cause dry eyes?
Dry eyes are one of Sjogren’s most prevalent symptoms. Because Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease, it causes your immune system to attack your body’s moisture-producing cells. That’s why dry eyes, mouth, and skin are so common in individuals with this disorder. If you are experiencing dry eyes, then it’s important to see your local optometrist as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and to rule out other issues. It’s important to treat Sjogren’s as quickly as possible because dry eyes are not just uncomfortable – they can also lead to vision and other eye health problems over time.
Can you have Sjogren’s without dry eyes?
It is, in fact, possible to have Sjogren’s without dry eyes, although it is rare. Sjogren’s presents different symptoms for different patients. Although dry eyes are one of the most common symptoms, you may experience some combination of:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Painful or cracked tongue
- Burning or dry throat
- Dry or peeling lips
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Changes in smell or taste
- More frequent dental decay
- Joint pain
- Digestive problems
- Skin dryness
- Vaginal dryness
- Overwhelming fatigue
Patients may have only a few of these symptoms or they may have all of them. While everyone’s disease is slightly different, the lack of dry eyes does not necessarily mean that you don’t have Sjogren’s. Always consult with your doctor to be sure.
What autoimmune diseases cause eye problems?
Sjogren’s is one autoimmune disease known to cause ocular symptoms, but it’s far from the only one. Other autoimmune disorders that can cause eye symptoms include rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, Graves’ disease, and giant-cell arteritis. The symptoms that these diseases can cause may include dry eyes, red eyes, a sensation of having a foreign body in the eye, photophobia, visual changes, pain in the eyes, or even total vision loss.
Can Sjogren’s syndrome cause bowel problems?
It may seem like eye problems and bowel problems are entirely unrelated, but the same disorder can cause them. Patients with Sjogren’s often have symptoms similar to those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The GI tract is an internal mucosal surface that’s rich in antibodies and nerves. Its primary function is to absorb nutrients and digest food. For many people with Sjogren’s, the simple act of enjoying food is a significant challenge. You may be able to reduce your symptoms by eating smaller meals more frequently, using over-the-counter or prescription antacids, including plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet for fiber, or experimenting with different diets (such as gluten-free or other elimination diets) to monitor symptoms and rule out other sensitivities.
Treatment for Sjogren’s-related dry eyes
Your treatment options for dry eyes with Sjogren’s depend on the causes and severity of your disease. Some of the most common treatments, however, include:
- Artificial tears
- Topical corticosteroids
- Scleral lenses for dry eyes
About our speciality lenses practice
At Weston Contact Lens Institute, we offer many of the latest dry eye treatments, including BlephEx, Zocushield, Lipiflow, and scleral lenses. If you are dealing with dry eyes, feel free to contact us for an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.