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Thyroid Eye Disease: Diagnosis, Main Causes and Treatments

Thyroid Eye Disease it’s a condition that manifests in patients with Thyroid Disease or Grave’s Disease. It is associated with an uncontrolled immune system that targets the tissue surrounding the eye, resulting in a bulging eye as one of the most noticeable symptoms. 

As you scroll down this article, you will have a deep understanding of this condition and how it is diagnosed and treated. We invite you to keep reading. 

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What is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Thyroid Eye Disease, also known as Graves ophthalmopathy, is caused by an overproduction of thyroid hormones. It is related to Grave’s Disease and most patients with this condition will develop eye problems or TED. 

This ophthalmopathy progresses in two phases: The initial phase, characterized by inflammation, can last up to 3 months or even years. Subsequently, in the second phase the inflammation ceases and the patient may enter a state of remission. 

Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

Most common symptoms may include: 

  • Dry Eyes

  • Red Eyes

  • Bulging eyes, also called proptosis

  • Difficulty closing the eyes

It can also cause inflammation that may affect the eyes. As the disease progresses, there can be an increased sensitivity to light or impaired vision. Early diagnosis of Thyroid Eye Disease is crucial for treatments to be effective by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) and a thyroid specialist (endocrinologist).

Methods of Diagnosis 

Estimates have shown that up to 50% of people with Graves Disease will also have symptoms associated with Thyroid Eye Disease. 

However, it can be seen in patients with no prior history of thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid Eye Disease can be diagnosed at the same time as thyroid dysfunction.  

The methods employed vary based on each individual’s clinical history. If your healthcare provider identifies any enlargement of the thyroid or swelling, they may issue a medical order for a CT or MRI scan of the eyes. 

On the other hand, if you have never had thyroid issues before, a blood test will be done to check your thyroid levels. 

Current treatments for Thyroid Eye Disease 

Although there is no cure for Thyroid Eye Disease, symptoms are managed depending on the degree of severity. 

For a less severe case, lubricating eye drops can be prescribed to manage the discomfort. For severe cases, it may be necessary to prescribe corticosteroids such as prednisone to reduce the symptoms. 

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of TED, schedule a consultation with your healthcare provider for personalized advice. 

FAQ about Thyroid Eye Disease 

Q: Can Thyroid Eye Disease be prevented?

A: There is no specific prevention, but controlling the underlying thyroid condition and managing other risk factors may reduce the likelihood of developing TED.

Q: Is Thyroid Eye Disease common?

A:  It is a relatively uncommon condition, but it often occurs in individuals with Graves' disease. Women are more frequently affected than men.

Q: What are the complications of Thyroid Eye Disease?

A: Complications may include vision loss, corneal ulcers, and in severe cases, compression of the optic nerve leading to blindness. Proper and timely treatment is crucial to prevent complications.

Q: Can Thyroid Eye Disease be managed with lifestyle changes?

A:  While lifestyle changes cannot cure TED, adopting a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and avoiding smoking may contribute to overall well-being and may have positive effects on the course of the disease.

Q: Can Thyroid Eye Disease recur?

A: TED can have relapses, and ongoing monitoring and management are essential to address any recurrent symptoms or complications. Regular follow-ups with healthcare providers are recommended.


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