Sarcoidosis and Its Effects on the Eyes

by Jul 17, 2023

Sarcoidosis, also known as sarcoid, is an autoimmune condition that can have significant effects on the eyes and eyelids. It is characterized by the immune system’s overreaction or improper response to standard body parts, leading to inflammation and damage. While the exact mechanism of this autoimmune response is still not fully understood, research suggests that sarcoidosis can affect the eyes, skin, and lungs.


Who Can Get Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis tends to affect women more frequently than men, and the age range most commonly affected is between twenty and fifty years old. Although it can affect individuals of any race, historical data show that people of African or Northern European descent have been more prone to developing sarcoidosis. It is believed that there may be a genetic inheritance component to sarcoidosis, as some familial clusters of cases have been observed.


Sarcoid in the Eyes

When it comes to the eyes, sarcoidosis primarily manifests as an inflammatory process, causing complications and damage due to excessive inflammation. This inflammation can occur both in the front and back of the eye. If the front of the eye is affected, it is known as anterior uveitis, whereas inflammation in the back of the eye is referred to as retinitis or chorioretinitis.


Inflammation of the eyes

Anterior uveitis in sarcoidosis primarily affects the iris, cornea, and other structures at the front of the eye. The resulting granulomatous anterior uveitis often becomes a long-term, chronic condition. Symptoms of this condition include blurred vision, eye pain, and red eye. Blurred vision is typically caused by inflammation affecting the cornea, reducing clarity and causing blurry vision. Eye pain is likely due to inflammation affecting the ciliary muscle and surrounding nerves. The inflammation of the conjunctiva and sclera, causing blood vessels to become inflamed, leads to a red-eye appearance.

In cases where sarcoidosis affects the back of the eye, it can lead to retinitis. This condition is characterized by inflammation visible during an eye examination. Inflammation in the retina may cause the accumulation of white blood cells, appearing as snowballs in the eye. Retinitis results in reduced vision, blurred vision, and eye discomfort due to the aggregation of inflammatory cells in the retina, vitreous, and choroid.


Treatment for Sarcoidosis

Treatment for sarcoidosis primarily focuses on reducing inflammation during acute attacks and managing the autoimmune factors in the long term. Steroids are commonly prescribed during acute episodes to suppress inflammation and may also be used as a prophylactic treatment to prevent future attacks. Immunosuppressant medications can be utilized to regulate the autoimmune response of sarcoidosis. In cases where the eyes are involved, steroid eye drops or injections may be administered for acute treatment.

If you suspect you have sarcoidosis or are experiencing any eye-related symptoms, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial. An eye specialist will be able to evaluate the condition and provide appropriate treatment. Managing sarcoidosis early on with proper medical intervention can help protect vision and prevent further complications. Remember to communicate with your primary eye doctor and other healthcare professionals involved in your care to ensure comprehensive and coordinated treatment.


Our eye doctor at Brooklyn Eye Care excels in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses, and the diagnosis of various eye diseases. Call our optometrist at (763) 999-6116 to schedule your appointment today if you would like to learn more about sarcoidosis. Our eye doctor, Dr. Vivian Ekemezie provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Brooklyn Park, MN area.

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