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Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid Eye Disease/Graves' Opthamolopathy symptoms and treatments

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Updated December 14, 2003

There are many different names you might find for the autoimmune eye condition that is often seen with thyroid disease, including:
  • Thyroid Eye Disease, sometimes abbreviated as TED
  • Graves' Opthamolopathy
  • Thyroid-associated orbitopathy (TAO)
  • Grave's orbitopathy
Thyroid Eye Disease is an autoimmune eye condition that, while separate from thyroid disease, is often seen in conjunction with Graves' Disease. The condition, however, is seen in people with no other evidence of thyroid dysfunction, and occasionally in patients who have Hashimoto's Disease. Most thyroid patients, however, will not develop thyroid eye disease, and if so, only mildly so.

Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

Signs and symptoms include:
  • Pain in the eyes, pain when looking up, down or sideways
  • Dryness, itching, dry eyes, difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Inflammation and swelling of the eye, and its surrounding tissues
  • Swelling in the orbital tissues which causes the eye to be pushed forward -- referred to as exophthalmos -- which can make Thyroid Eye Disease sufferers appear to have a wide-eyed or bulging stare.
  • Bloodshot appearance to eyes
  • Double vision (doctors call it diplopia)
  • Impaired vision
Thyroid Eye Disease is known to go through varying degrees of severity, and can go into periods of remission as well. When it has been inactive for a period of around a half a year, it's less likely to recur. Treatments for Thyroid Eye Disease range from lubricating eyedrops and ointments to, in very rare cases, surgery. In a very small percentage of patients, orbital decompression may be called for.

Detailed information about thyroid eye disease, including in-depth information about links between smoking and thyroid eye disease, treatments, and the issue of hyperthyroid conditions resulting from the radioactive iodine treatment for Graves' disease is available online.

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