An overactive or underactive thyroid can have a variety of detrimental effects on the body. Thyroid eye disease is a condition that occurs secondary to general thyroid disorder in which the inflammatory response of the immune system affects the soft tissues in the eye socket. This inflammation usually occurs in both eyes, though not necessarily symmetrically.
Thyroid eye disease is a complex process that occurs in stages. The inflammatory response in the tissue of the eye socket may last as long as two years and may develop in a person who hasn’t even been diagnosed with thyroid disease. In many cases, the early inflammation that occurs feels more like irritation and dryness. Within the eye, though, significant ocular involvement may be happening. As inflammation continues, additional symptoms may develop. These include:
- Eye redness
- Excessive tearing
- Blurred vision
- Double vision or an aching sensation with eye movements
- Puffiness in the upper or lower eyelids
- Aching deep in the eye socket
- The appearance of staring or bulging eyes due to retraction of the upper eyelid
Treating Thyroid Eye Disease
Treatment for thyroid eye disease is planned very carefully and revolves around the disease state a patient is in at the time of diagnosis.
A mild, early disease state may be managed with prescription eye drops that control inflammation and comfort.
An active disease state may include specific treatment of the eyes as well as treatment to manage general thyroid function. The aim of treatment may be to lower the risk of eye bulging (proptosis) and visual disturbances related to protruding eyes.
If the active disease state has presented a significant concern for appearance or vision, an ophthalmic plastic surgeon who specializes in thyroid eye disease may conduct orbital decompression surgery. This procedure relieves pressure against the optic nerve and creates more space in the eye sockets for the eyes to sit properly.
Getting Proper Care for Thyroid Eye Disease
Fante Eye and Face Center is recognized as a premier facial cosmetic surgery practice in Denver. However, Dr. Fante is also renowned for his work in the area of thyroid eye disease and eyelid reconstruction procedures. His extensive training is complemented by his activity as editor-in-chief of the most comprehensive textbook ever created for the specialty of oculofacial plastic surgery. He has also lectured extensively on the subject of thyroid eye disease and successfully treated numerous patients with proptosis.