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What to know about Crohn’s and the eyes

As eye tissue is similar to the tissue elsewhere in the body, inflammatory diseases can affect it in similar ways.

Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include cramps, diarrhea, and bloody stool. However, Crohn’s disease can also cause symptoms outside the digestive tract. These include skin complications, problems with joints, and eye disorders.

About 10% of people with Crohn’s disease have eye-related symptoms or conditions. Due to the sensitivity of the tissues in the eye, symptoms may occur in this part of the body before people notice them in the gut.

In this article, we discuss eye-related disorders that can occur due to Crohn’s disease and why they might occur. We also explain how people can treat these conditions and reduce their risk of developing them.

Several different conditions relating to the eye can affect people with Crohn’s disease. These conditions include the following:


Episcleritis is a common eye-related disorder for those with Crohn’s disease. Episcleritis is the inflammation of the episclera, which is the tissue between the outermost layer of the eye and the white part, or sclera, underneath.

Symptoms include:

  • tenderness to touch
  • watery eyes
  • redness
  • bright red spots on the sclera
  • mild pain

Unlike some other eye-related conditions that people with Crohn’s disease may experience, episcleritis does not cause sensitivity to light or blurred vision. It is also less painful than other eye-related conditions.


Scleritis is the inflammation of the sclera.

Symptoms include:

  • redness of the eye
  • watery eyes
  • pain in or around the eye
  • burning
  • blurry vision
  • headaches
  • difficulty sleeping
  • sensitivity to light

In extreme cases, inflammation can lead to the thinning of the sclera, which also gives the eye its shape.


Uveitis is the inflammation of the uvea — a layer of tissue that includes the iris — just beneath the sclera. Uveitis affects people with Crohn’s disease less frequently than scleritis.

This condition is more serious than episcleritis as it can lead to glaucoma or even vision loss if a person does not receive treatment.

Symptoms include:

  • sensitivity to light
  • blurred vision
  • pain
  • redness

These symptoms may occur suddenly or develop slowly over time.

Learn more about uveitis, including its symptoms and treatment options, here.


Keratopathy is a disorder that affects the cornea, the clear outer part of the eye. It often results in blister-like swelling.

Other symptoms include:

  • sensitivity to light
  • excess of tears or discharge
  • irritation
  • the feeling that an object has become stuck in the eye

Dry eye

Dry eye, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, occurs when there is a lack of tear production. It can often feel as though sand or another foreign body is in the eye.

Other symptoms include:

  • pain
  • burning
  • redness
  • itching
  • stinging

Dry eye has many different potential causes, however. If someone with Crohn’s experiences dry eye, there could be a different underlying cause behind it.

Learn more about the potential causes of dry eye here.

Scientists do not yet know the exact causes of eye-related symptoms in Crohn’s.

However, Crohn’s is an inflammatory disease, and the inflammation that typically affects the digestive tract can sometimes occur in other areas of the body.

In addition to the eye problems above, some people with Crohn’s may experience eye disorders due to medication that they take for the disease. For instance, the use of corticosteroids over a long period can lead to glaucoma or cataracts.

Read full article here.

Posted on: January 9 2020

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Crohns & Colitis