One of the most common complaints from patients with Sjögren’s syndrome is the effect the disease has on the mucous membranes and moisture secreting glands of the eyes and mouth. Meaning, dry eyes and dry mouth due to decreased production in tears and saliva. Over 4,000,000 Americans suffer from Sjögren’s and it’s known to be one of the most prevalent auto-immune diseases, predominantly affecting women. While Sjögren’s can lead to problems with various other organs and there is higher risk for other diseases, one of the most common problems facing Sjögren’s patients is persistent, chronic Dry Eye.
In addition to treatment patients take for their Sjögren’s syndrome, treating Dry Eye in these patients has been largely focused on tear replacement therapies with drops or topical medication. While this has provided some patients temporary relief, new research has shown that many patients with Sjögren’s syndrome develop Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). If treated, this provides greater long-term relief of Sjögren’s related Dry Eye symptoms.
MGD occurs when the tiny glands in the eyelids become blocked or obstructed. These glands produce necessary oil to protect the eye surface to allow for healthy tear consistency necessary for long-term ocular comfort.
A recent study1 found that many patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome also suffered from MGD. According to Dr. Caroline Blackie, one of the authors of the study, “The problem for Sjögren’s patients is that MGD compounds an already deficient tear layer problem with significantly higher tear evaporation. Treating MGD and removing gland obstruction gives Sjögren’s patients a much brighter outlook for ocular comfort.”
In the study of 59 patients, all had Dry Eye symptoms and MGD, with 23 of those patients testing positive for Sjögren’s Syndrome. All patients received the LipiFlow treatment to clear blocked Meibomian glands. It was shown that there was a mean improvement in increased oil secretion from the Meibomian glands and a mean improvement in signs and symptoms from all baseline measurements in all patients. According to Dr. Blackie, “What this means is that there is now documented proof that LipiFlow can reduce the impact of Dry Eye symptoms for Sjögren’s patients when MGD is present, a condition that many Sjögren’s patients have.”
While LipiFlow does not treat the root cause of Sjögren’s syndrome, it can help relieve symptoms related to MGD if present. LipiFlow has been proven in various clinical studies to remove blocked Meibomian glands associated with MGD, the leading cause of Dry Eye symptoms. Find out more about Dry Eye and MGD treatments or find an eye care professional (Link to find a doctor) today to discuss your treatment options.
Sjögren’s syndrome is listed as a precautions as patients with this condition may have reduced treatment effectiveness because Sjögren’s may cause ocular symptoms unrelated to the cystic Meibomian glands.
1. The article containing the Sjögren’s research results is published in the Dove Press Journal Clinical Ophthalmology. The research was conducted by Dr. Alice T. Epitropoulos with Ophthalmic Surgeons and Consultants of Ohio and The Eye Center of Columbus, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Department of Ophthalmology, Columbus, OH; Dr. Krysta Goslin with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Department of Ophthalmology, Columbus, OH; Dr. Raman Bedi with the Iris Advanced Eye Centre, Chandigarh, India and; Dr. Caroline A. Blackie with TearScience Inc., Morrisville, NC.