Thyroid Eye Disease Graves Disease Treatment
One of the most common thyroid diseases is
hyperthyroidism, in which there is an overproduction of thyroid
hormones. People with hyperthyroidism may experience some degree
of eye difficulty. Often, even if the overly active thyroid
gland is brought under control, the eye symptoms persist or may
The eye problems are caused by swelling of the
soft tissues surrounding the eyes and enlargement of the muscles
that move the eyes. As a result, the eyes may protrude forward,
the eyelids may retract, there is an inability to fully close
the eyelids, and an abnormally large amount of the front of the
eye is exposed. This results in wide prominent eyes, a fixed
staring expression, and infrequent blinking of the eyelids.
Some patients experience the eye problems as
soon as their thyroid becomes hyperactive. In other cases, the
eyes changes develop slowly, sometimes years after the beginning
of abnormal thyroid activity.
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There may be pressure about the eyes, double
vision, excessive tearing, and irritation of conjunctiva (the
mucous membrane that lines the eyelids). Inability to close the
eyes at night can result in dryness, discomfort, blurred vision,
foreign body sensation, or light sensitivity.
In cases of mild eye problems, treatment is directed at
minimizing the symptoms. Sleeping with the head elevated and
using topical eye ointments and artificial tears may sooth the
In some cases, surgery is needed to correct
the condition. The function and appearance of the eyes can
usually be improved. Surgery is usually performed as an
outpatient (there is no need for hospitalization). Local
anesthesia with sedation, or general anesthesia, may be used so
there is little, if any, pain during or even after the