Graves’ disease, or thyroid eye disease (TED), is an autoimmune disease that starts when the body’s immune system begins attacking the back of your eye, causing inflammation. The fatty tissues behind the eye and the eye muscles become inflamed. This can give off a bulging appearance, making it seem as though the person is constantly staring, since the eye is being pushed forward.
The eyelids and eyes will become red and swollen. In rare cases, the muscles holding the eye in place can also become stiff, limiting movement of the eye and causing double vision. It can sometimes also cause blindness.
TED is called thyroid eye disease because it is associated with having an overactive thyroid, which is mainly due to Graves’ disease. That’s why TED is also sometimes known as Graves’ orbitopathy, or GO for short. Grave’s disease is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism. TED can also sometimes affect people with a normal or underactive thyroid.
What Are the Symptoms Most Commonly Associated with TED?
Make sure you make an appointment to see your doctor at your earliest convenience if you have any of these symptoms:
• Changes in how your eyes normally appear (Your eyes might look like they’re staring or even bulging.)
• Gritty feeling in your eyes
• Watery or dry eyes
• Bags under your eyes
• Increased sensitivity to bright lights
• A feeling of fullness or swelling in your upper eyelids
• Redness in your eyes or lids
• Double or blurred vision
• Difficulty in moving your eyes
• Pain in your eye (usually experienced when you’re looking down, up, or sideways)
Your symptoms might gradually get worse over the course of six to twelve months.
How Do I Prevent TED from Getting Worse?
There are a few ways to avoid exacerbating thyroid eye disease and its symptoms:
• Smoking disrupts the body’s natural healing process. If you’re a heavy smoker, now would be the time to quit smoking.
• If you suffer from hyperthyroidism, try to avoid fluctuations in your thyroid levels. Follow any and all advice that your physician gives you and have blood tests regularly to check your thyroid levels.
• Try selenium supplements – these are supplements you can get over the counter and they’re known to help patients who have mildly active TED.
• If you’re only suffering a mild case of TED, your eyes feel gritty, are sensitive to bright lights, and water a lot. For, you should just get artificial tear drops to feel a little more comfortable.
What Treatments Are Available for TED?
Some people with TED are often left with permanent damage to the appearance of their eyes. To improve the appearance of their eyes, people can come to Houston Oculofacial for surgical solutions:
• Decompression Surgery – This procedure creates some space behind the eye in order to decrease the bulging effect caused by TED.
• Eye Muscle Surgery – This surgery helps to treat cases of double vision.
• Eyelid Surgery – Also known as blepharoplasty, this procedure can improve the appearance of your eyelids.
Speaking with Dr. Sami
TED is rather difficult to diagnose, as it has symptoms similar to another eye issue, conjunctivitis. Make sure that it is TED that you have by contacting Houston Oculofacial for a consultation with Dr. Mirwat Sami. Dr. Sami is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and will be happy to help you find a solution.