Inflammatory Bowel Disease


What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term that is used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. There are two types of IBD: Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD).

How does Inflammatory Bowel Disease affect the eyes?

Both UC and CD can affect the eyes. They can cause inflammation in the eyes called uveitis. The uveitis can affect both the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the anterior chamber (the front part of the eye). The inflammation can be seen by an ophthalmologist during an exam. The inflammation can also appear in the white part of the eye. This condition is called an episcleritis.

What are the symptoms of anterior uveitis?

Iritis, also called anterior uveitis, can occur in one or both eyes. Children with symptomatic iritis complain of pain, light sensitivity, decreased vision, red eye or headache. The pupil also can appear irregularly shaped.

What testing is needed to have the diagnosis of uveitis associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

A full, in-office examination by an ophthalmologist is needed. Laboratory and radiologic exams also may be needed to help make the diagnosis. Patients with both an anterior uveitis and IBD may also be positive for a genetic marker called HLA b-27. Your primary care or gastrointestinal doctor can help you find the right person to perform the testing for this genetic marker.

How is anterior uveitis associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease treated?

The main treatment for anterior uveitis is eye drops. These usually include a topical steroid to help control inflammation and a dilating drop. The dilating drops will make the iris (the colored part of the eye) relax and the pupil larger, this can reduce pain and help decrease complications of the pupil sticking to the lens of the eye.