Sjögren’s Syndrome 

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Testing the Eyes for Sjogren's Syndrome.

Testing the Eye for Tear Production (L) and Damage to Conjunctiva from Dryness (R).

What Is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

Sjögren’s syndrome is a systemic inflammatory autoimmune disease with a chronic, progressive course that primarily attacks the lacrimal glands of the eye and the salivary glands of the mouth, which are exocrine glands. Exocrine glands secrete the substances they produce through a duct.

Sjögren’s syndrome is ordinarily characterized by dysfunction of the lacrimal glands to produce tears causing dry eye and the salivary glands to produce saliva causing dry mouth, but is not limited by or to these features.

Besides involvement of these exocrine glands, there may be involvement of other parts of the body, termed extraglandular, which may be more severe than eye or mouth features.

There is not yet agreement on classifying Sjögren’s syndrome. Primary and secondary are the two forms generally accepted.1 Both forms can cause mild to severe disease, called the spectrum:

  • Primary Sjögren syndrome. Disease occurs without involvement of other linked autoimmune disorders. In addition to the eyes and mouth, the nose, throat and skin may also be affected and joints, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs and nerves as well.2 Systemic manifestations (other than eyes and mouth) concern a third of patients, including lymphoma in 5% of the patients.3
  • Secondary Sjögren’s syndrome. Disease complicates other autoimmune disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and celiac disease.

Diagnosis  of Sjögren’s syndrome is made by most doctors based on Schimer’s test for tears and unstimulated whole salivary flow to assess objective eye and oral involvement, since these are the tests most physicians use in clinical practice.4 Specific antibody tests would be  positive for anti-Ro (SSA)/anti-La (SSB) autoantibodies. Sjögren’s syndrome should also be considered when extraglandular manifestations such as vasculitis, polyneuropathy or arthritis occur, even when the patients do not complain of dry eyes and mouth.5

There is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome. Treatment is aimed to diminish symptoms. For example, steroids and Ibupropen are used to decrease inflammation and pain in joints. Artificial tears and ointments are used for dry eye.

Most people who develop Sjogren’s syndrome are older than 40 years. Nine of ten people with Sjögren’s syndrome are women.2

What Is Sjögren’s Syndrome In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. Huang YF, Cheng Q, Jiang CM, An S, Xiao L, Gou YC, Yu WJ, Lei L, Chen QM, Wang Y, Wang J. The immune factors involved in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of Sjogren’s syndrome. Clin Dev Immunol. 2013;2013:160491. doi: 10.1155/2013/160491. Epub 2013 Jul 9. []
  2. nlm.nih.gov [] []
  3. Fazaa A, Bourcier T, Chatelus E, Sordet C, Theulin A, Sibilia J, Gottenberg JE. Classification criteria and treatment modalities in primary Sjögren’s syndrome. Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2014 Apr;10(4):543-51. doi: 10.1586/1744666X.2014.897230. []
  4. Cornec D, Saraux A, Cochener B, Pers JO, Jousse-Joulin S, Renaudineau Y, Marhadour T, Devauchelle-Pensec V. Level of agreement between 2002 American-European Consensus Group and 2012 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for Sjogren’s syndrome and reasons for discrepancies. Arthritis Res Ther. 2014 Mar 19;16(2):R74. []
  5. Witte T. Pathogenesis and diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome. Z  Rheumatol. 2010 Feb;69(1):50-6. doi: 10.1007/s00393-009-0519-2. []