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Crohn’s Disease Eyes: Symptoms, Complications, and Treatment

Crohn’s disease can affect the eyes and cause various symptoms such as eye pain, redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, itching, and vision loss. Here are key things to know for optimal eye health.

While Crohn’s disease is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the digestive system, Crohn’s disease can also affect other parts of the body, including the eyes. It’s important to monitor eye health and seek treatment early to prevent complications and maintain good eye health.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the different symptoms, complications, and treatment options for Crohn’s disease in the eyes. Plus, you’ll learn answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Crohn’s and Eyesight

Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation in the eyes and potentially lead to vision loss, with ophthalmic inflammatory disorders affecting 3.5%-6.8% of Crohn’s disease patients. Therefore, monitoring your eye health during the early stages of Crohn’s disease is crucial to identify any inflammatory disorders and prevent vision loss.

It is crucial to have routine eye exams to monitor the health of your eyes and seek prompt treatment if you experience any symptoms. Early treatment is essential to prevent complications and vision loss.

Additionally, ocular tissues may become inflamed without exhibiting symptoms, making regular ophthalmic follow-ups recommended for all IBD patients. Additionally, eye exams should be conducted before any changes to IBD therapy, as some drugs may cause ocular adverse effects. Patients taking systemic corticosteroids should be aware of the risk of cataracts and glaucoma.

What Eye Symptoms Are Associated with Crohn’s Disease?

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease in the eyes can vary, depending on the type of eye problem. Some common symptoms include:

  1. Eye pain: Pain in the eye can be a sign of Crohn’s disease in the eyes.
  2. Redness: Redness in the eye can be a sign of inflammation.
  3. Blurred vision: Blurred vision can be a sign of uveitis or retinal disease.
  4. Sensitivity to light: Sensitivity to light can be a sign of uveitis or scleritis.
  5. Eye itching: Itching in the eye can be a sign of conjunctivitis.

What Eye Problems Are Associated with Crohn’s?

Crohn’s disease can cause several eye problems, including:

1. Uveitis:

An up close image of an eyeball that is very red and inflamed.
image courtesy of The American Academy of Ophthalmology

Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye and is a common complication of Crohn’s disease. Uveitis can cause eye pain, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light.

2. Scleritis:

An up close image of the white part of the eyeball that is red and inflamed.
image courtesy of The Cleveland Clinic

Scleritis is an inflammation of the white part of the eye and can cause eye pain, redness, and sensitivity to light.

3. Episcleritis:

An up close image of an eyeball that has inflammation of the tissue.
image courtesy of Merck Manuals

Episcleritis is an inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the white part of the eye and can cause eye redness and pain.

4. Conjunctivitis:

An up close image of the eyeball and eyelid that are red and inflamed.
image courtesy of The Cleveland Clinic

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin, transparent layer that covers the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis can cause eye redness, itching, and tearing.

5. Retinal disease:

An up close image of a retinal scan of an eyeball.
Retinal Disease and Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease can cause retinal disease, which can lead to vision loss.

Crohn’s Disease Eye Complications

Crohn’s disease in the eyes can lead to several complications, including:

  1. Blindness: Blindness can occur as a result of retinal disease.
  2. Vision loss: Vision loss can occur as a result of retinal disease or uveitis.
  3. Scarring: Scarring in the eye can occur as a result of inflammation and can lead to vision loss.

Can Crohn’s Disease Cause Eye Bags?

Crohn’s disease can cause eye bags in some people due to inflammation and swelling in the tissues around the eyes. Eye bags can give a tired or worn-out appearance and may cause emotional distress.

Fortunately, managing Crohn’s disease and its symptoms can help reduce inflammation and swelling around the eyes, which can prevent or alleviate eye bags. Cosmetic treatments may also be an option to reduce their appearance. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider for the best course of treatment for your specific situation.

Can Crohn’s Disease Cause Dark Eye Circles?

Crohn’s disease can cause dark circles under the eyes, which can make the eyes appear tired and worn-out. Dark circles can result from inflammation and swelling in the tissues around the eyes, as well as from lack of sleep and nutritional deficiencies that are common in people with Crohn’s disease.

Fortunately, managing Crohn’s disease symptoms through medication and lifestyle changes can help reduce inflammation and swelling around the eyes, which may improve the appearance of dark circles. Additionally, getting enough sleep and addressing nutritional deficiencies may help too. To find the best treatment for your specific case, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider.

Why Can Eyes Become Sore with Crohn’s Disease?

Sore eyes are a common symptom of Crohn’s disease in the eyes. The eye pain can be caused by inflammation in the eye, and it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

Can Crohn’s Disease Cause Eyelid Inflammation?

Crohn’s disease can cause eyelid inflammation, which can cause redness, pain, and itching. In severe cases, eyelid inflammation can lead to vision loss. It’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Take Home Message About Crohn’s Disease and Eyes

Crohn’s disease can have an impact on the eyes and cause several symptoms, complications, and vision loss. It’s essential to monitor your eye health and seek treatment as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms. Early treatment can prevent complications and vision loss, and help you maintain good eye health.

Here are a few more resources that may be helpful:


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About the Author

Danielle Gaffen, MS, RDN, LD

Danielle Gaffen, MS, RDN, LD

Understanding the link between nutrition and gut disease prompted me to obtain my master’s degree in Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University and become an IBD Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Now I work with people who have Crohn’s and colitis who are struggling with confusion around what to eat. My favorite part is helping them to build confidence to eat without fear while managing their symptoms.

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