Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease. Instead of the white blood cells helping to fight off disease, the defenders behave like an enemy within that causes damage to the cells of the salivary and tear glands. Although the condition can be severe, severity varies from one individual to another. The most extreme forms of Sjogren's syndrome adversely affect quality of life in many ways, but more minor forms are irritating more than debilitating. The condition affects an estimated four million people in the USA, with women making up 90%.
Dry eyes are one of the most noticeable symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome. The tear glands become inflamed and damaged, leading to the production of fewer tears. In this situation, the eyes start to sting or itch, often described as similar to having sand in the eyes. Often, they also become reddish, and the eyelids swell. Some individuals also experience blurred vision and heightened light sensitivity.
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