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Cogan Syndrome

(Cogan's Syndrome)


Melvin I. Roat

, MD, FACS, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Reviewed/Revised Aug 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
Topic Resources

Cogan syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease that can affect the cornea.

  • Eye pain, decreased vision, increased sensitivity to bright light, and redness of the eye are common symptoms.

  • Diagnosis is by a doctor's evaluation and blood tests to rule out other diseases.

  • Treatment is with corticosteroid eye drops and corticosteroid pills.

Cogan syndrome can affect different parts of the eye, including the cornea. The cornea is the clear layer in front of the iris and pupil. It protects the iris and lens and helps focus light on the retina. It is composed of cells, protein, and fluid. The cornea looks fragile but is almost as stiff as a fingernail. However, it is very sensitive to touch.

The Cornea, Pupil, and Iris

An Inside Look at the Eye

An Inside Look at the Eye

Symptoms of Cogan Syndrome

People can develop eye pain, decreased vision, increased sensitivity to bright light, and redness of the eye. If the ears are affected, people can develop hearing loss, ringing in the ears, vertigo Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common disorder causing short episodes of vertigo (a false sensation of moving or spinning) in response to changes in head position that stimulate... read more Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo , and a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears. If the blood vessels are affected, people can have heart murmurs and claudication (pain in the limbs during physical activity).

Diagnosis of Cogan Syndrome

  • An eye examination

The diagnosis of Cogan syndrome is suspected when a person has symptoms of corneal inflammation without any known cause. A slit lamp Slit-Lamp Examination A person who has eye symptoms should be checked by a doctor. However, some eye disorders cause few or no symptoms in their early stages, so the eyes should be checked regularly (every 1 to 2... read more , an instrument that enables a doctor to examine the eye under high magnification, is usually used to examine the cornea.

Blood tests for syphilis, Lyme disease, and the Epstein-Barr virus are done to rule out these diseases, which may have symptoms similar to those of Cogan syndrome.

Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is done.

Treatment of Cogan Syndrome

  • Corticosteroid eye drops

  • Sometimes corticosteroids given by mouth

A corticosteroid eye drop is given to decrease inflammation in the cornea. If there is no improvement, if the inflammation is very deep, if the ear is affected, or if blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis Overview of Vasculitis Vasculitic disorders are caused by inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis). Vasculitis can be triggered by certain infections or drugs or can occur for unknown reasons. People may have... read more Overview of Vasculitis or aortitis Aortitis Aortitis is inflammation of the aorta. The aorta is the largest artery of the body. It receives oxygen-rich blood from the heart and distributes it to the body through smaller arteries that... read more ) is detected, corticosteroids are given by mouth. Sometimes people are treated with other drugs such as cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, cyclosporine, rituximab, or infliximab.

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