Sjögren’s Syndrome (SS) is an autoimmune disease which affects approximately 1 in 200 people in the developed world. In Sjögren’s syndrome, specialised secretary glands that produce saliva and to dry eyes and dry mouth. In addition, many patients feel tired all the time and experience aches and pains which can be quite debilitating. The condition occurs when the body’s immune system, which normally provides protection from infection, begins to attack parts of the body instead, particularly the tear and salivary glands. This causes many symptoms ranging from mild discomfort, irritation and vision distortion, to serve damage to the corneal surface.
In addition to dry eye and dry mouth some patients can also develop systemic complications which range in severity from fatigue, joint and muscle pain, skin rashes to pulmonary complications which range from mild reduction in lung function to severe complications such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. At present there is no way to predict which patients will go on to develop these disease associated complications. Treatment options are reactive and limited, and the disease can have a significant impact patients’ quality of life.
About our research
The Ocular Immunology Research Group (OIRG) focus on Sjögrens Research in Ireland. We aim to PRofile Emerging immune signatures associated with Developing Inflammatory autoimmune Conditions to develop improved Therapeutics (PREDICT).
An uncontrolled immune response, a lack of affective treatments and a failure to predict who will develop further complications are key features shared with conditions that affect the surface of the eye, in particular the cornea and ocular surface including the autoimmune condition Sjögrens Syndrome, ocular graft versus host disease and complications of corneal transplantation.
Our research focuses on understanding what is causing the immune system to improperly function leading to chronic inflammation and organ damage in individuals with autoimmune conditions, potentially leading to new treatments.