The Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation (SSF) brought together clinical leaders and Sjögren’s experts in all areas of care to produce and publish the very first Clinical Practice Guidelines in Sjögren’s to ensure quality and consistency of care for the assessment and management of patients.
These guidelines will help doctors and dentists in various disciplines to provide appropriate care to Sjögren’s patients and will ensure that patients receive the best treatment possible.
There are currently three (3) different Guidelines that have been completed and published and they are:
Currently, the SSF is working on Phase 2.The second phase of this initiative will significantly increase the guidance offered on the management and treatment of Sjögren’s. The following topics will be addressed in Phase 2:
- Systemic Manifestations in Sjögren’s
(Pumonary; Peripheral nervous system (PNS); Central nervous system (CNS); Lymphoma and other blood cancers; Vasculitis)
- Oral Manifestations in Sjögren’s
(Muscosal management and symptom relief; Use of secretagogues; Caries management and restoration)
- Ocular Manifestations in Sjögren’s
(Update and expand on the ocular guidelines developed in Phase 1 and TFOS DEWS II Report)
- Cross-cutting Topics
(Parotid and lacrimal gland swelling)
Clinical Practice Guidelines,
"How will the recently published Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) for Ocular Management affect my next visit to my eye care professional?"
The recently published SSF Clinical Practice Guidelines for Ocular Management of Sjögren’s were developed to provide evidence-based recommendations for physicians and eye-care providers to advise a logical sequence of treatment options for dry eye. One aspect of the recommendations was to describe methods of grading the severity of dry eye disease and basing therapy on severity and the patient’s response to previous therapy. The guidelines also put into perspective some of the recently developed techniques for diagnosing dry eye and monitoring therapy.
Many of the measures described in the report have been used by practitioners in previous therapy of dry eye, but some of the newer options may not yet have been incorporated into all eye care practices and the described system of grading severity may be new to some practices. Therefore, the effect of the published guidelines may have different implications to different patients.
Your physician or eye care provider may discuss some of the newer options for diagnosis and grading of severity in particular cases. This will probably be true for the testing of tear osmolarity and testing for presence of the inflammation marker MMP-9, as those new tests are of assistance in grading severity of dry eye and recommending treatment options, as well as monitoring the effect of some treatments. Some of the recommendations for such testing may depend upon availability of the in-office tests and whether the symptoms or signs of dry eye have changed in particular patients. The provider may advise additional testing or a change in therapy, but not all patients will require such testing or altered treatment.
The treatment options recommended by a patient’s care provider will depend upon the severity of dry eye disease and the response to previous therapy as well as any existing contraindications to particular treatment options. It also is important to remember that these are recommended guidelines and not mandatory standards of care for all patients with dry eye. The clinical evaluation and overall assessment of each individual patient determines appropriate management as well as the cost/benefit balance for any given patient.
by Gary N. Foulks, MD
Co-Chair of the Ocular Working Group for the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee
This information was first printed in The Moisture Seeker, SSF's member newsletter.
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July is Dry Eye Awareness Month! The Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation partners with various organizations during July to help educate the public about dry eye symptoms, treatment options, and the possible cause being Sjögren’s. We hope you enjoy our July blogs aimed to promote dry eye awareness and education.
Q) I have heard a lot about some Sjögren’s patients finding relief from Serum Tears. What are they, how are they made and will it help me with my dry eye?
A) Topical autologous serum used to treat ocular surface damage from dry eye disease is usually reserved for the most severe cases that have not responded to other treatments, particularly intensive lubricant and anti-inflammatory therapy. Autologous describes the fact that it is taken from the patient themselves; serum describes the component of the blood that is used to prepare the drop. It was first reported to improve dry eye symptoms and signs in 1984, but there are now a number of reports supporting its beneficial effect in Sjögren’s disease. Most often prepared as a 20% topical solution, autologous serum must be prepared by removing blood from the patient’s vein and spinning down the clotted cells to isolate the liquid serum which is then diluted in artificial tears solution into small vials. It is not specifically approved by the FDA. Autologous serum contains fibronectin, vitamin A, cytokines, and growth factors, as well as anti-inflammatory substances, such as interleukin receptor antagonists and inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases. It is not clear which of these components is most helpful, but significant improvement in symptoms, tear break up time, and surface staining have been reported.
The disadvantages of the use of autologous serum include the issue that it must be prepared by the eye care practitioner under well controlled conditions or by a compounding pharmacy, as well as the need to refrigerate the drops. There is a potential risk of infection if contamination of the solution occurs. The stability of frozen autologous serum has been verified for up to 3 months.
Typically, the serum is applied topically four times daily, and this can be done in conjunction with other therapy including topical lubricants, topical cyclosporine, or oral tear stimulants. The serum does not work well with contact lens wear.
This option may not work for every Sjögren’s patient and thus one will need to find an ophthalmologist or optometrist that is familiar with Serum Tears to accurately gauge the benefits.
-Gary Foulks, MD, FACS
This information was first printed in The Moisture Seeker, SSF's patient
newsletter for members.
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