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The relationship between Sjogrens Syndrome, scleroderma and dry eye

Posted Sep 11 2009 4:58pm

Sjogrens disease is a disorder of glandular tissue of the body with resulting dryness of the eyes, mouth and other mucosal tissues. It is associated with lymphatic cell infiltration of the glands and developement of antibodies as part of an autoimmune process.

The cause is primarily autoimmune where the body reacts to it's own tissue, promoted by genetic and environmental factors.In the presence of an already established autoimmune disease, the process is called Secondary Sjogrens syndrome, but if there is no such process, than the condition is called Primary Sjogrens syndrome. Autoimmune diseases that may be associated with Sjogrens include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus or systemic sclerosis, amongst others.

The thrust of investigations are to establish the presence of true dry eye or mouth, followed by demonstrating typical change on biopsy of affected tissue.

Therapy is required for prevention of the complications of dry eye -with reduction in secondary conjunctivitis, infection, corneal ulceration and visual impairment.

Preventative dental hygiene is vital to prevent oral caries.

For Sjögren’s syndrome patients, inflammation of tear-secreting glands reduces tear production, resulting in chronic dry eye. In addition, changes in the composition of tears contribute to dry eye.

In people with dry eye, thin spots in the tear film may appear and the tears no longer adequately protect and support the health of ocular surface tissues.

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