When Sarcoidosis of the Eyes Is Disabling

Sarcoidosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when small clusters of abnormal tissue—called granulomas—form and A Close-Up View of a Blue Eyeaffect one or many organs in your body. The lungs are the most commonly impacted organ, but about one-quarter to one-half of sarcoidosis cases are eye related. Patients who suffer from sarcoidosis of the eyes often complain of sunlight sensitivity; blurred vision; eye redness, itching, and dryness; and some patients may have small yellow bumps on their eyes.

Some people with sarcoidosis don’t suffer symptoms, and the condition improves on its own without complications. Others may have serious symptoms that need drug therapy. In rare cases, some patients may need an organ transplant. Sarcoidosis patients with severe cases may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

What Is the Most Common Complication of Eye Sarcoidosis?

If you suffer from sarcoidosis of the eye, a common complication is the development of “uveitis.” This happens when there is inflammation of the uvea—the membranes in the eye. When your eye responds to that inflammation, white blood cells are sent to the front of your eyes and can make them sticky. This can cause the iris and the lens to stick together and cause pain and eye pressure.

Uveitis can be acute and last for a short amount of time, or it can be a chronic condition. The most severe and serious forms of uveitis can reoccur often. If you’re a new patient, a complete eye exam is important after you’ve been diagnosed with sarcoidosis. If left untreated, uveitis can cause blindness.

Is There Treatment for Sarcoidosis of the Eyes?

Although sarcoidosis of the eyes isn’t curable, its symptoms can be managed with treatment. If the only organ affected is the eye, your doctor may prescribe a steroid such as prednisone and eye drops to treat the inflammation. If other body organs have been affected by sarcoidosis, treatment will be based on which organs are involved. Often, symptoms disappear after treatment. But even though sarcoidosis of the eyes is usually manageable, you still need to receive treatment quickly. Without it, you are at risk of eye damage and could suffer loss of vision.

Disability for Sarcoidosis of the Eyes

The SSA does not cite sarcoidosis in its Blue Book—a listing of diseases and illnesses that cause disabilities. So, if you’ve been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, the SSA will evaluate your condition under the disability listing for whatever organ in your body is affected by this disease. For example, if sarcoidosis impacts your eyes and you’ve suffered vision loss, you need to have a specific level of vision loss to receive benefits. To qualify for SS benefits due to vision impairment, there are three listings in the Blue Book that apply to most people filing a claim involving vision loss: central vision loss, peripheral vision loss, and loss of “visual efficiency” in the better of the two eyes.

If you suffer from symptoms of eye sarcoidosis and they impact your ability to live life and do your job, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Contact us at 402-933-5405, and let us review your case.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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