Background: Intraocular findings in sarcoidosis were described by US studies with 35 % anterior uveitis, 25 % posterior uveitis and 20 - 30 % for late complications in case of first presentation. We report on the spectrum and diagnostic possibilities in 38 German patients.
Patients and methods: 38 patients (68 eyes) aged 11 - 58 years (average 42.7 y), who suffered of intraocular manifestations in histological confirmed systemic sarcoidosis (1987 - 1997), were completely evaluated retrospectively. For additional diagnostic tools fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, nuclear magnetic resonance tomography and measurements of angiotensin-converting enzyme, lysozyme and calcium in serum were performed.
Results: 15 patients (22 eyes = 32.4 %) had anterior uveitis: granulomatous keratouveitis (10 eyes), granulomas of the iris (6), granulomas of the trabecular meshwork (3) and 22 patients (42 eyes = 61.8 %) an intermediate and posterior uveitis: granulomatous perivasculitis (18 eyes), cystoid maculopathy (8), pars planitis (6), neuroretinitis (4), optic neuritis (3), choroiditis (3). Late complications in case of first presentation were found in 22 patients (39 eyes = 57.4 %): posterior synechiae 14 x, secondary glaucoma 10 x, cataracta complicata 8 x, optic atrophy 6 x, intraocular calcification 1 x.
Conclusion: Compared to previous studies with heterogeneous ethnic composition, intraocular inflammations with confirmed sarcoidosis in German patients show more than 60 % involvement of the posterior segment. We may speculate on the reasons for these discrepancies as being due to ethnic reasons, age and long-term follow-up. In case of typical ocular signs of sarcoidosis, treatment should be started immediately even without histological confirmation. In some cases histological confirmation is successful 8 years after first presentation.