Sarcoidosis is an infection characterized by the formation of strange nodules or masses of inflamed tissue, referred to as granulomas in body organs. The condition affects various organs within the body, particularly the lymph gland, livers and the lungs. Other than sarcoidosis eyes, which affects the eyes, this condition may also impair the functioning of the brain, spleen, heart, nerves, tear glands, sinuses, salivary glands, joints and the bones. The formation of granulomas in any body organ alters its structure and possibly its functioning.
Sarcoidosis Eyes Symptoms
Statistics have revealed that between 25 and 50 percent of people suffering from sarcoidosis have symptoms affecting the eyes. Such sarcoidosis symptoms include itching, burning, dry eyes, watery eyes, redness, blurred vision and sensitivity of the eyes to sunlight. Such patients will also have minute bumps in the eyes that are pale yellow in color. In severe cases, sarcoidosis can lead to the inflammation of the uvea, a membrane in the eyes that is rich in blood vessels. This condition is known as uveitis.
This condition causes white blood cells to move to the front of the eye, making the eye sticky. This makes eye structures to stick together. In some cases, this condition can lead to increased pressure inside the eye. Symptoms of uveitis include redness, pain and sensitivity to light. If left untreated, this condition can lead to blindness. If you are diagnosed with sarcoidosis, it is advisable for you to get a comprehensive eye examination regularly for about a year after the diagnosis.
Other Sarcoidosis Symptoms
- Generalized symptoms: During the early stages of the infection, many patients complain ofsymptoms like fatigue, fever, weight loss and swollen lymph nodes.
- Lung symptoms: Almost all the patients of statistics experience lung problems at some point of their lives and complain of symptoms like persistent dry cough,shortness of breath, chest pain and wheezing.
- Skin symptoms: About 25 percent of sarcoidosis patients are bound to experience skin problems, including reddish-purple or red rashes around the ankles and the shins, disfiguring skin lesions on the cheeks, ears and the nose, growth of nodules beneath the skin, especially near tattoos and scars and darkening or lightening of skin color in certain regions.
Note: Although this may not be a serious condition, it can have damaging effects on the affected organs over the long run. As such, you should go for diagnosis if you experience such sarcoidosis symptoms.
What Causes Sarcoidosis?
The cause of sarcoidosis eyes has not yet been established. However, some people tend to have a genetic predisposition to contracting the infection. The infection may be triggered by various things, including exposure to dust, chemicals, certain viruses and bacteria. Currently various researchers are still trying to locate the genes that predispose people to this condition. Under normal circumstances, the immune system protects the body from the invasion of disease causing microorganisms. In the case of sarcoidosis, some immune cells collect in certain organs to form granulomas. Build up of these granulomas in such organs can impair their functioning with time.
Although anyone can contract this infection, there are certain factors that predispose people to the infection. The following are some of the predisposing factors:
- Sex and age: Basically, women are more likely to contract this infection. Sarcoidosis mainly occurs in people between 20 and 40 years of age.
- Race: As compared to the white Americans, African-Americans are more likely to suffer from sarcoidosis. The condition is also more likely to recur in the African-Americans.
- Family history: If a relative of yours is suffering from this condition, your likelihood of suffering the same fate is high.
Ascertaining this condition may be a bit difficult, because its symptoms are similar to those of cancer and arthritis. As such, the doctor will carry out multiple tests to diagnose sarcoidosis. Initially, the doctor will carry out a physical examination to check for:
- Rashes or skin bumps
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Enlarged spleen and liver
If the results from this physical checkup are affirmative, the doctor will order extensive diagnostic tests, some of which are mentioned below.
- Chest x-ray – to check for the presence of granulomas
- Chest CT scan – a cross sectional imaging of the chest
- Biopsy – a sample tissue is taken for analysis
- Lung function test – to determine whether the lungs are functioning properly
Additionally, the doctor may also take blood samples to check the functioning of the liver and the kidney.
While sarcoidosis has no cure, treatment is offered to minimize its symptoms and restore proper functioning of the affected organs. As such, mild cases of this disease do not require any treatment.
Sarcoidosis Eyes Treatment
Treatment for sarcoidosis is based on the severity of the infection. For instance, cycloplegics and topical steroids may be used to cure mild cases of anterior uveitis. If the uveitis does not respond to topical steroids, systemic steroids may be administered. Systemic steroids may also be used on patients of optic nerve compromise, neovascularization or posterior uveitis.
If the patient is refractory to the steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may need to be administered. If the inflation continues, other remedies, such as chemotherapy may need to be used. In various cases, cryoablative and trabeculectomy therapy has been used to treat secondary glaucoma that could not be cured using medical treatment. Retinal neovascularization, that has some ischemia can be treated using topanretinal photocoagulation.
General Treatments for Sarcoidosis
Treatment for the condition may be categorized into two: drug treatment and practices to maintain good health.
Practices to maintain good health
- Regular checkups
- Taking a balanced diet, comprising of vegetables and fruits
- Getting enough sleep, 6 to 8 hours
- Stop smoking
- Taking enough fluids daily
Drug medications are mainly used to minimize inflammation and relieve the symptoms. The following are some of the commonly used medications for sarcoidosis:
- Corticosteroids: This is the first remedy that is offered to sarcoidosis patients. They are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that may be applied directly to the affected area, in the form of inhalers in case the lungs are affected or creams for skin lesions.
- Anti-rejection medications: These are meant to minimize the inflammation associated with this condition. They work by suppressing the immune system.
- Antimalarial medications: These drugs are particularly helpful when the nervous system is affected or the patient has increased calcium levels in blood or skin disease.
- Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors: These are administered to reduce inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The medication may also be used to treat sarcoidosis that is resistant to other medications.