Today was my visit to my Ophthalmologist to discuss the worsening of my eye symptoms. We have known that I have Sjogren’s Syndrome, secondary to my Rheumatoid Arthritis, for a few years now and up until recently I have had moderate dry eyes and my salivary glands also cause me a bit of grief. In particular, I have difficulty swallowing when my disease is flaring.
Sjogren’s syndrome is a relatively common autoimmune disease that mainly affects the eyes and salivary glands, but can affect different parts of the body. Immune system cells, called lymphocytes, and autoantibodies attack the body’s moisture-producing glands. This results in dryness of the mouth, eyes or other tissues.
The disorder may progress slowly, so the typical symptoms of dry eyes and mouth may take years to show. However, rapid onset can also occur. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe, and the progression is often unpredictable
My eye symptoms are now classified as severe. So severe that my right cornea is now scarred due to the effect of severe dryness. Imagine having a hair stuck in your eye that you can’t get out. It’s a little like that but worse. It is this dryness and scarring that is causing my eyelid to get stuck during blinking and it can take a couple of minutes before it will be released. Things like using a hair dryer, having a light on in the bathroom or lights shining into the side of my eyes, all cause an episode where my eyes can’t focus and my eye lid just wants to close. It is so disconcerting when that happens as I just can’t see and it feels like the eye lid is in a spasm that I have no control over. I already use artificial tears to try and manage the dry eyes but there are few options available to me to help improve the situation. We are going to try a new kind of artificial tear for severe dry eyes and I’m hoping that will at least improve the situation slightly. If that doesn’t work we can use steroid eye drops but my Ophthalmologist wants to avoid them for as long as possible as they have serious side effects.
So, that’s the mystery of the sagging eyelid. At least I know what it is and that’s always a good thing! On to my next adventure this week….a new Physio to help with the rehabilitation of my broken femur. I can’t wait….not being sarcastic this time… I seriously can’t wait!! My leg is giving me way too much grief, pain levels are escalating and I need a Physio who will take me on for the long haul and who is trained in full rehabilitation. It looks like I’ve found one close to home so I’m very excited. Watch this space for hopefully a good report 🙂