Signs and Treatments For Thyroid Eye Disease

Signs and Treatments For Thyroid Eye Disease

Like any other part of the human body, our eyes can also be affected by conditions or diseases which may hamper its functions and cause discomfort for us. One such condition is Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). In this article, we tackle the causes, symptoms, and treatments of thyroid eye disease (TED) for you to know should you be affected by it.

Also known as Graves’ Orbitopathy, TED is commonly characterized by red, swollen, and painful eyes and eyelids. Due to the inflammation, the eye itself can appear to be ‘bulging’ or protruding. In a few cases, the muscles that surround the eye become stiffer than its usual flexibility, making the patient unable to move their eyes coordinately. This causes double vision. Also, the person’s vision may be reduced due to the swelling of the eyelids. The front of the eye can also develop ulcers when the eyelids are not able to be closed fully.

Treatments of Thyroid Eye Disease is slow and can last for a few years, spanning a few phases. The first phase involves preserving sight and improving the cornea’s integrity to ensure vision is not damaged any further. Dryness due to eyelid dysfunctionality can be relieved by artificial tears. In the remission phase, surgery may be needed to correct damage caused by excessive swelling. If you or any of your loved ones are affected by TED, you may seek help of eye care professionals. If you don’t currently have an eye care provider, a good place to start your search is

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Unlike other diseases of the eye wherein a certain part of the eye itself is infected, TED is unique in the sense that does not belong to the same cause. Rather, it is due to our own body’s immune system reacting to a certain trigger which forces it to attack the tissues that surround the eye including the sides and back. This is commonly referred to as an ‘autoimmune reaction’ which can also stem from allergies or pathogens in the body. Such autoimmune reaction is similar to the cause of Graves’ disease which affects the thyroid gland. Thus, most patients that suffer from hyperthyroidism or overactivity of the thyroid also develop TED. The eyes are linked to hyper thyroid activity since the connective tissues and muscles of the eyes are the same proteins as that of the thyroid gland.

Though both conditions (Graves’ disease and TED) are caused by the same autoimmune reaction, each of them is not affected by the other. As such, treatment for one of the diseases will not directly treat the other as well. Each condition must be treated with the appropriate medicine to relieve inflammation.

Patients affected by TED normally have inflamed and swelling eyes, eyelids, and other areas surrounding the eye. The entire eye area may appear puffy and bulging. Due to the inflammation, the eye area can also be painful. Excessive swelling may cause the eyelids to not be able to close the eyes entirely. This can make the eye dry and irritated as it cannot be protected from dust by the eyelids. If the swelling worsens, the pressure inside the eye socket can increase. This can cause severe headaches for the patient especially when moving his eyes. If the tissues around the optic nerves also become swollen, the nerves itself can be affected which causes decreased vision in the eyes. In severe cases of TED, the patient suffers from permanent vision problems as the optic nerves have become damaged due to extremely swollen muscles. The eyes can also retract to some degree, causing double vision.

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