Tips for Dealing with Dry Eyes Due to Sjogren’s Syndrome

Vaidyanathan Subramaniam avatar

by Vaidyanathan Subramaniam |

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Dry eyes are one of the most common symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome — and can lead to discomfort, blurred vision, and visual fatigue if not attended to immediately.

For people with the immune system disorder, inflammation of tear-secreting glands reduces tear production, resulting in chronic dry eye. Changes in the composition of tears also can contribute to dry eye.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your eyes remain moist throughout the day.

Blink often

It is important that you blink your eyes at least five to six times a minute so that the eye surface is kept clean and moist. While blinking normally occurs involuntarily, you may have to voluntarily blink often when you have dry eyes.

Rest your eyes

Your eyes need rest, especially when they run the risk of becoming dry. Take a break at regular intervals when reading or working on a computer and close your eyes for some time.

Protect your eyes

Harsh light or particulate matter in the air can compound eye irritation. Wear sunglasses to minimize light intensity falling on the eye and also to reduce tear evaporation due to airflow. You may also consider wearing moisture chamber glasses to add moisture to your eyes. If you are taking a rest, or in a dry environment for extended periods of time, place a wet cloth over your eyes to protect them.

Consider using artificial tears or punctal plugs

Artificial tears mimic the composition of natural tears and are available over the counter. Artificial tears can be used to treat mild eye dryness. It is recommended to use artificial tears before bedtime and in the morning before heading outside. People who frequently use drops should choose a brand without preservatives or one with special non-irritating preservatives.

Your ophthalmologist also may recommend the use of punctal occlusion plugs, which are small silicone plugs inserted into the openings of the eyelid from where the tears normally drain. This helps in retaining tears on the eye for a longer period of time.

Tackle blepharitis

Blepharitis, commonly seen in Sjogren’s syndrome patients, is the inflammation of the eyelids, resulting in redness, swelling, and itching. It can usually be treated by regularly washing the eyes with water or by using warm compresses and massaging the eyelids.

Be careful while applying makeup

Do not apply mascara, eyeliners, or eyeshadows under the eyelashes closer to the eye. If using mascara, apply near the tips of the eyelashes.

Check with your doctor before using medications

Prescription medications such as Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion), Xiidra (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution), and Lacrisert (hydroxypropyl cellulose ophthalmic insert) help in providing relief for peoples with severe dry eye symptoms. However, they must be used only after consultation with an ophthalmologist.


Last updated: Sept. 30, 2019


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