In systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients, dry eye syndrome (DES) is the most frequent ocular feature. The aim of this study was to investigate ocular DES-related SSc patients and to establish any correlation with the severity of the disease.

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Retrospectively, data from 60 patients with SSc underwent ophthalmic examination, where non-invasive film tear break-up time (NIF-TBUT), tear film lipid layer thickness (LLT), anesthetic-free Schirmer test I, tear osmolarity measurement (TearLab System), and modified Rodnan skin score (mRSS) data were collected. The visual analog scale (VAS) and Symptom Assessment in Dry Eye (SANDE) methods were utilized. The results were correlated with mRSS and the duration of SSc.

Severe DES occurred in 84% of cases, and was more severe in women. The eyelids were involved in 86.6%, secondary to meibomian gland disease (MGD). A direct correlation was found between the tear osmolarity (mean 328.51 ± 23.8 SD) and skin score (mRSS) (r = 0.79; < 0.01). Significantly reduced NIF-TBUT, LLT, and Schirmer test I values were observed in the case of severe skin involvement.
SSc patients show lipid tear dysfunction related to the severity and duration of the disease due to inflammation and the subsequent atrophy of the meibomian glands.