Specific Tests Used to Confirm Sjogren's Syndrome
Staining with vital dyes (rose bengal or lissamine green) shows how much damage the dryness has done to the surface of the eye. The doctor puts a drop of a liquid containing a dye into the lower eyelid. These drops stain the surface of the eye, highlighting any areas of injury.
Slit Lamp Exam
A slit lamp exam shows how severe the dryness is and if the outside of the eye is inflamed. An ophthalmologist (eye specialist) uses magnifying equipment to carefully examine the eye.
The doctor will look in the mouth for signs of dryness and to see if any of the major salivary glands are swollen. Signs of dryness include:
- A dry, sticky mouth
- Thick saliva or none at all
- A smooth look to the tongue
- Redness in the mouth
- Dry, cracked lips
- Sores at the corners of the mouth.
The doctor might also try to get a sample of saliva to see how much the glands are producing and to check its quality.
In order to help diagnose Sjogren's syndrome, the doctor may recommend a salivary gland biopsy of the lip. This test is the best way to find out if dry mouth is caused by Sjogren's syndrome. The doctor removes tiny, minor salivary glands from the inside of the lower lip and examines them under the microscope. If the glands contain lymphocytes in a particular pattern, the test is positive for Sjogren's syndrome.
Because there are many causes of dry eyes and dry mouth, the doctor will take these other causes into account. Generally, you are considered to have Sjogren's if you have dry eyes, dry mouth, and a positive lip biopsy, but the doctor may decide to do additional tests to see if other parts of the body are affected. These tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Immunological tests
- Urine tests.
The doctor will take blood samples to check blood counts and blood sugar levels, and to see how the liver and kidneys are working.