Dry eye caused by Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is one of the reasons why Venus Williams pulled out of the 2011 US Tennis open. Last weekend, at the Luxembourg open final, Venus won her first major title after a 31 month barren period.
Venus had been dealing with SS for many months prior to the diagnosis and this was the reason for her recent dip in form. She experienced dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue, swelling and loss of hearing which all affected her ability to play tennis.
SS is an autoimmune disorder which affects glands responsible for moisture secretion and lubrication throughout the body. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include dry sinuses, frequent sinus infections, inability to chew and swallow properly, as well as the symptoms Venus experienced.
One of the symptoms Venus developed was dry eye. A common cause of dry eye is a reduction in tear production. SS patients often develop low tear production as their syndrome causes inflammation of the tear-secreting glands within the eye.
SS can be diagnosed by symptoms in any area where glands are present to moisten or lubricate the body. These symptoms include unusual dryness in the vaginal area, joint and muscle pain without swelling, inability to chew and swallow properly as well as dry and sore skin.
For reasons currently unknown, it is older women, beyond menopause which are most likely to develop SS. However, as Venus (32) will testify, the condition is not exclusive to this group.
If you do develop dry eye as a result of SS, the symptoms can be soothed with Clinitas eye drops specially formulated for dry eye. You may also require aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation around the tear-secreting glands.
Currently, there is no way to avoid developing SS, but to ease the symptoms you should drink more water, chew hard candies to moisten your mouth, use a dry eye lubricant such as Clinitas Soothe, avoid alcohol and if applicable, stop smoking.
For those that have SS it is important to remember the symptoms of the syndrome can be treated and Venus’ return to form is proof that it need not affect your life, no matter what your passion may be.