Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid eye disease is a symptom of general thyroid disease, an autoimmune disorder in which a hormone imbalance impairs the body’s ability to recognize its own tissues. If you are experiencing the first signs of thyroid eye disease, or if you have been diagnosed with general thyroid disease, you should schedule a consultation with one of our doctors. At SightMD, we offer complete treatment for thyroid eye disease, working in conjunction with your primary care physician for comprehensive disease management.

About Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid disease often occurs when hormone levels become imbalanced. The body can react by attacking its own muscles and connective tissues, causing inflammation and swelling. Thyroid eye disease can affect the lacrimal glands, the muscles that control eye movement, the eyelid muscles, and the connective tissues surrounding the eye. The symptoms can include:

  • Bulging eyes
  • Inability to close the eyes fully
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye fatigue
  • Excess tearing or dry eyes, due to swollen lacrimal glands
  • Double vision

The swollen tissues surrounding the eye can place pressure on your optic nerve, leading to dim vision, an impaired ability to distinguish color, and compromised central vision. In the early stages of the disease, these symptoms can often be reversed. However, if left untreated, the condition could lead to permanent vision loss. Additionally, when you are unable to fully close your eyelids, your corneas are left exposed, which can lead to corneal ulcers and further vision damage. If you are suffering from these symptoms, or if you have recently been diagnosed with general thyroid disease, it is important to seek an ophthalmological evaluation as soon as possible.

Treatment for Thyroid Eye Disease

At SightMD, we offer complete treatment for thyroid eye disease in all its stages. If your symptoms are the first signs of a thyroid condition, we will first recommend that you see an internist or endocrinologist, who will work with you to regulate your thyroid function. At the same time, we can provide treatment for your ocular symptoms.

Thyroid eye disease remains in an active stage for 1 to 3 years following its development. During this initial phase, we will work to control your symptoms and prevent vision damage. To prevent dry eyes and cornea damage, we may prescribe medicated eye drops. If swelling tissues are threatening your optic nerve, we may recommend steroids. We can treat double vision with specially designed glasses containing prisms.

Once your thyroid disease is in remission, we offer more aggressive treatment to correct permanent changes in your orbital tissues. One of the most common treatments is orbital decompression surgery, in which your doctor will remove a small section of your orbital bone to move your eye back into its normal position. Finally, eyelid surgery can help you to close your eyes fully, and it can reduce the puffy appearance surrounding your eyes. For the majority of our patients, the results of these surgical treatments last the rest of their lives.

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