Blood tests can detect certain antibodies in Sjögren’s syndrome, although this isn’t a thorough diagnosis.
A specialist eye examination, and occasionally kidney and lung function tests are needed to complete the diagnosis. Eye tests include Schirmer’s test: a paper strip that measure the production of tears. Normally people wet the paper very quickly, but in Sjögren’s syndrome, the paper may still be dry.
An ophthalmologist may perform a slit lamp examination, where a special lamp scans the surface of the eye and identifies abnormalities of secretion or the cornea. A dye that identifies mucous material may also be put into the eye to reveal a characteristic pattern for Sjögren’s syndrome. A lip biopsy may be taken under local anaesthesia to sample salivary glands and reveal the degree of damage.
There is currently no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, so treatment aims to relieve the symptoms. A variety of artificial tear preparations can be used to treat dry eyes. There are some oral lubricants for treating symptoms of a dry mouth, but none are entirely satisfactory. Chewing sugarless gum may be helpful. Good dental hygiene and frequent visits to the dentist are essential. Moisturisers can help people with dry skin and lubricating creams may help dryness of the vagina. Oral medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can be used to treat swollen and painful joints.