Ocular manifestations of inflammatory bowel diseases: an update for gastroenterologists

Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2020 Jul 16. doi: 10.23736/S1121-421X.20.02727-0.Online ahead of print.

Fabio Castellano 1, Giovanni Alessio 2, Carmela Palmisano 2


Author information

  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, School of Gastroenterology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy - fabio.castellano@edu.unito.it.
  • 2Department of Medical Science, Neuroscience and Sense Organs, Eye Clinic, School of Ophthalmology, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, can affect not only the gastrointestinal tract but a wide spectrum of organs. The extra-intestinal manifestations (EIMs) are one of the most challenging aspect of IBD, playing a significant role for the life-time care and the quality-life of patients. Ocular manifestations are the third most frequent EIMs, preceded by articular and dermatological ones. The aim of this narrative review is to describe the different types of ocular involvements, focusing on their clinical management. Uveitis and episcleritis are the most common ocular EIMs, differing for many aspects. Uveitis are unrelated with IBD activity and they even precede the onset of the intestinal disease, while episcleritis are common defined as a good mark of IBD activity. Pain is uncommon in most cases of episcleritis, while severe eye pain and photophobia are the most frequent onset of anterior uveitis. Less common but even more severe, are orbital pseudotumor or posterior segment involvement. Most of the ocular EIMs can be successfully treated with topic and oral steroids and the underlying therapy for IBD can reduce or cut out at all the recurrence of these manifestations. Symptoms are commonly not specific, in some cases being unnoticed for years leading to permanent ocular consequences. Cooperation between different specialists is crucial to avoid all the possible consequences of a non-treated EIMs, especially for ocular ones.

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