What Is Thyroid Eye Disease?

What Is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Although rare, the severest form of this disease can lead to blindness.

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a rare disorder with key characteristics that you should strive to recognize. Here is an overview of TED, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Thyroid Eye Disease: An Overview
Thyroid eye disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the inflammation of the extraocular muscles. When this occurs, the eyelids retract and the eyes bulge outward, creating the impression of a drawn-out stare. Other common names for thyroid eye disease include Graves’ ophthalmology (a reference to surgeon Robert James Graves) and Graves’ eye disease.

As with all autoimmune disorders, the exact cause of thyroid eye disease is unknown. Researchers believe that many people diagnosed with TED may have inherited the condition genetically or as the result of some environmental trigger. Known risk factors include being over the age of 50, smoking cigarettes, having diabetes, and having high cholesterol.

The most common symptoms of TED are bulging eyes and retracted eyelids that may be difficult to close. Other symptoms include limited eye mobility, double vision, pain, swelling, dryness, redness, and increased light sensitivity. In its severest form, TED can lead to total blindness, which occurs when the inflammation causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve.

There is no known cure for thyroid eye disease, but several treatment options exist to help lessen the effects of the condition. For those experiencing mild symptoms, eye drops and prescription medication can diminish swelling and alleviate discomfort. In some cases, orbital decompression surgery is required to decrease symptoms and prevent the loss of vision.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of thyroid eye disease, then you should seek professional eye care ASAP. Sterling Vision consists of experienced optometrists, ophthalmologists, and other specialists capable of delivering effective treatments for a variety of eye conditions. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.