Optic neuropathy associated with systemic sarcoidosis

Objective: To identify and follow a series of 52 patients with optic neuropathy related to sarcoidosis.


Fifty-two patients were included in the study. The mean (range) age was 42.5 (20–71) years. Thirty-two (61%) were women. Twenty-four were Caucasian, 24 African or Caribbean, and 4 were from South Asia.

Methods: Prospective observational cohort study.

Results: The disorder was more common in women and affected a wide age range. It was proportionately more common in African and Caribbean ethnic groups. Two clinical subtypes were identified: the more common was a subacute optic neuropathy resembling optic neuritis; a more slowly progressive optic neuropathy arose in the remaining 17%. Sixteen (31%) were bilateral. Concurrent intraocular inflammation was seen in 36%. Pain arose in only 27% of cases. An optic perineuritis was seen in 2 cases, and predominate involvement of the chiasm in one. MRI findings showed optic nerve involvement in 75% of cases, with adjacent and more widespread inflammation in 31%. Treatment with corticosteroids was helpful in those with an inflammatory optic neuropathy, but not those with mass lesions. Relapse of visual signs arose in 25% of cases, necessitating an increase or escalation of treatment, but relapse was not a poor prognostic factor.

Conclusions: This is a large prospective study of the clinical characteristics and outcome of treatment in optic neuropathy associated with sarcoidosis. Patients who experience an inflammatory optic neuropathy respond to treatment but may relapse. Those with infiltrative or progressive optic neuropathies improve less well even though the inflammatory disorder responds to therapy.

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