Estimates are approximately 4 million Americans suffer from Sjögren’s Syndrome (SS) or about 1 in 10 of your dry eye patients. The hallmark symptoms are dry eye and dry mouth but Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Patients may also experience extreme fatigue and joint pain and have a higher risk of developing lymphoma. We must do a better job of finding these patients early as unfortunately Sjögren’s can often be overlooked or even misdiagnosed.
On average, it takes nearly 3.9 years to receive a diagnosis of Sjögren’s. Dr. Ken Beckman wrote in Cornea (December 2014), “Detection of early markers for Sjögren syndrome in dry eye patients” presents a review of 3 patients with a history of dry eye utilizing standard ocular surface exam testing such as corneal staining, tear break up time as well as tear osmolarity testing. Aggressive treatment regimens and referral to Rheumatology can make a significant improvement in these patients lives.
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Author: Ken Beckman, M.D.