Thyroid Eye Disease

What is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, and it is an autoimmune disorder that affects the muscles and fatty tissue lying behind the eye. It can cause a number of physical and emotional changes in the eyes, such as swelling, bulging, pain, redness, and even double vision. It is estimated to affect around 50-70% of individuals who have Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disorder that leads to an overactive thyroid).

Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

The most common symptoms of TED include:

  • Pain and tenderness around the eyes
  • Dry and red eyes
  • Puffy eyes (e.g. swollen eyelids)
  • Bulging of the eyes
  • Double vision
  • Vision loss

Diagnosing Thyroid Eye Disease

The diagnosis of TED typically is based on a combination of medical history, physical examination, and test results. During the initial assessment, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and the symptoms you are currently experiencing. He or she will then perform physical examinations of your eyes and the surrounding area to check for physical signs of the disorder. Your doctor may also order diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, CT scan, X-ray, blood tests, or ophthalmological examination to help make a diagnosis.

Treatment for Thyroid Eye Disease

Treatment for TED may include changes to glasses prescription, medical therapy, or even surgery. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops, oral medications, or injections to treat your symptoms. Surgery may be recommended if you have significant eye problems. Additional non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and counseling may also be helpful.