Sarcoidosis continues to be a baffling condition. Despite being recognized as a disease more than 100 years ago, and despite a huge amount of scientific money and effort, the exact cause for this disease is unknown. Pulmonary physicians see this disease most often because 90% of the time it affects the chest, usually by causing a swelling of the lymph nodes at the root of the lungs. The patient may htave symptoms but often sarcoid is discovered when a chest x-ray or CT scan of the chest is done for some other reason.
When sarcoid is first diagnosed, I always tell the patients to get an eye exam to rule out the presence of sarcoid in the eye. Sarcoid can involve any organ of the body, but I think the most devastating involvement has to do with the eye. The eye is affected by sarcoid in about 40% of the cases and is the presenting complaint in about 20%. The eye symptoms are caused by an inflammation called a uveitis. This inflammation can affect several layers of the eye and the patient can have significant symptoms such a swelling and redness of the eye, but sometimes the symptoms can be minimal, and damage is being done.
There are treatments which can help if a sarcoid uveitis occurs, and most of the time it can be contained and resolved. However, if you are diagnosed with sarcoid, no matter where in the body it is found, be sure to get an eye exam.