Dry Eyes: A Hallmark Sjogren's Symptom
Updated: Mar 7, 2021
If you have been diagnosed with Sjogren's, chances are you have dry eyes.
While not every Sjogren's patient has dry eyes, it is one of the most common symptoms reported.
Sjogren's is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, which means the immune system attacks the healthy parts of the body.
While Sjogren's is a systemic disease (meaning it attacks the whole body) it's primary aggressions are against the endocrine system - which are the moisture producing glands in the body.
This means the mouth (saliva), nostrils (mucus), and yes the beloved eyes (tears).
Here is a breakdown of how the layers of the eye work, and an explanation of what happens to dry eye suffers.
Source: Bright View Optometry and Restorative Dry Eye Clinic, Calgary
There are several treatments/supplements available to Sjogren's patients who suffer from dry eyes.
Please note that the products and treatments listed below are for information only, I do not necessarily endorse every item, as I haven't tried them all (I wish I could afford to!).
I want to help dry eye suffers by letting you know what is out on the market, so you can do research and find the products and treatments that are right for you. See the list below:
There are several eye drops advertised and targeted towards dry eye suffers.
It can be increasingly frustrating to trial and test eye drops, as it can get quite expensive trying out new product after new product.
While I know that not every product will work for every patient, finding a preservative free eye drop is essential.
The preservatives in eye drops can cause damage to the eyes and make Sjogren's symptoms worse.
From experience and talking with other Sjogren's Warriors, the eye drops that have preservatives often sting and burn the eyes of patients.
I personally prefer the Hylo brand of eye drops.
This is a new eye drop on the Canadian market, and it is the drop that I continue to fall back on time and time again.
Hylo has two dry eye drop products, one for regular use, and a more intensive drop that is a gel. I use the regular drops during the day and the gel at night.
You can purchase Hylo products at your local pharmacy like shoppers drug mart or online at amazon.
Link to Hylo regular at Amazon.
You will notice that the Hylo drops are a bit more expensive than other drops on the market with an average price of about $47.
However, I have heard from a couple individuals that you can get the Hylo drops at Costco for about $37 - so it might be worth checking that out if you have a Costco membership.
Your optometrist or Ophthalmologist may also provide you with prescription eye drops.
Common drops include Alrex, which is a steroid drop which targets inflammation of the eye lids (blepharitis).
Restasis is another very common eye drop. This drop is used to help increase the amount of tears you make.
I personally have not ever tried this medication, but I have a few friends who swear by it.
I went through a period after my son was born when my eyes had debilitating inflammation and blepharitis.
Blepharitis leads to eye infections.
I could barely keep my eyes open, had to wear sunglasses indoors, and had difficulty working on a computer.
It took almost 6 months of treatment with my Opthalmologist to recover.
In addition to Alrex (listed above) my doctor prescribed me with a antibiotic gel.
It's always a good idea to be checked out by your Opthalmologist if your eyes flare up as treatment for infection and inflammation are different.
There are several eye gels available over the counter at your local pharmacy. I don't have any one brand that I recommend, but the one I am currently using is made by Systane.
Using heat masks on your eyes is one of the first treatments I would recommend in addition to eye drops and gels.
It's relatively inexpensive, you can do it home on your own schedule - plus it's very relaxing.
There are several heat eye masks on the market, and to be honest, I haven't done my research to compare cost over value.
I ended up purchasing a Bruder Eye Compression Mask directly from my optometrists office.
I got it from their office for about $40, and I see that this same product is listed on amazon for $70. It might be worth asking your optometrist or ophthalmologist to see if they sell a quality mask for cheaper than retail price.
Diet and Supplements:
It may be a no brainier, but I'm just going to say it.
If you suffer from dry eyes, make sure you are drinking plenty of water!
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease dry eye symptoms.
Scleral lenses are essentially over-sized, rigid contacts.
They can help patients experiencing moderate-to-severe dry eye symptoms by helping to retain tear volume above the cornea.
Scleral lenses have been found to be “efficacious and well tolerated for use in severe dry eye syndrome”.
Here is an article written about a dry eye sufferer and how scleral lenses have helped to improve her quality of life.
Punctal plugs are used to treat dry eyes by inserting a a small medical device into the tear duct of the eye.
This prevents the eye from draining fluid.
Punctal plugs are temporary.
Here is a short video that explains punctal plugs.
Blephex for Blepharitis:
Blephex is a treatment used to target and eliminate blepharitis.
This treatment is an in-office treatment where the doctor uses a device to scrub bacterial debris off the surface of the eye lid (which is the leading cause of blepharitis).
Treatment has been reported to be well tolerated and only takes a couple minutes.
I have only found a few optometrist offices in Calgary that offer this treatment.
If you want to explore this treatment, I would recommend trying to find a optometrist who specialized in dry eye and ask to see if this treatment is available in their office.
Lipiflow is a dry eye treatment where your eye doctor uses a device to remove gland blockages and restore meibomian gland function.
From my understanding this is a fairly new treatment in the Canada market. I could only find one office in Calgary that currently offers this treatment.
I have not used this treatment, but I am saving up my pennies to do so.
I have one member from my support group who has done this treatment and she claims it completely changed her life.
Prior to this treatment she was spending upwards of $300/month of prescription eye drop - as she didn't have insurance.
I have heard varying answers on how long the Lipiflow treatment claims to work, from 9 months upwards to 4 years. I may depend on the person.
This treatment costs about $1400 for both eyes, which is a bit expensive.
But if you are dropping massing amounts of cash on other treatments like prescription eye drops, this treatment may be beneficial to you.
To learn more about LipiFlow, please visit their website here.
Click here to watch a video on how LipiFlow works.
The iLux® device uses an LED light to gently raise the eyelid temperature and melt the substances blocking the meibomian glands.
The eye doctor will then apply compression to squeeze the melted substances from the lids, restoring the body’s natural oil production for naturally lubricated eyes.
The iLux® is brand new and is similar to an existing treatment called Lipiflow. It has been reported that iLux® is significantly less expensive than Lipiflow, and has been shown to deliver very similar results.
I just heard about this treatment today while researching dry eyes!
Stay tuned for more information on this treatment.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy
IPL therapy usually consists of several treatments performed at 4-6 week intervals, followed by maintenance treatments as needed thereafter.
IPL therapy may be provided in conjunction with digital gland expression and/or prescription medications to improve results.
IPL treatments are painless and take very little time.
You can read an article here about how Intense Pulsed Light Therapy was used to treat dry eye.
Conclusion on Dry Eye Treatment Options
As you can see, there are a lot of products and treatment available for dry eye suffers.
Both products and treatments can range in price, so I recommend calling around and doing some research in your area before committing to any one product or treatment.
For my fellow Sjogren's Warriors, I'm curious to know...
Which of the above products have you tried?
Which ones are your must-haves?
Which ones would you pass on?
Which products do you most recommend?
Which products or treatments listed above that you are you going to try next?
I look forward to hearing about how you are working to relieve your dry eyes, feel free to share your story in the comments below.
Health and Happiness,
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