Purpose Sjögren's syndrome (SS) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by salivary and lacrimal glandular destruction leading to symptoms of dry mouth and dry eye. Dryness can also occur in the absence of glandular destruction. Patients with SS have autoantibodies that bind to muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the exocrine glands. Recently, a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, cevimeline, has been approved for use against symptoms of dry mouth in patients with SS. In this study, the efficacy of cevimeline in improving symptoms of dry eye was examined. Design Prospective, randomized, double-blind, multi-center clinical study. Methods Sixty patients were randomly assigned to three groups - placebo; cevimeline, 20 mg three times daily; or cevimeline, 30 mg three times daily - and received treatment for 4 weeks. Patients were evaluated before treatment, at week 2, at the end of treatment, and at the end of a 2- to 4-week follow-up period. Results Compared with the placebo, statistically significant differences were seen with cevimeline, 20 mg three times daily, in subjective symptoms, tear dynamics, condition of the corneoconjunctival epithelium, and global improvement rating. No difference was found among the three groups regarding the safe use of the drug. Conclusions These results indicate that cevimeline, 20 mg three times daily, is safe and effective in improving symptoms of dry eye in patients with SS. Additional studies, with larger patient populations, are needed to further assess the effectiveness of cevimeline for dry eye.
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