Thyroid Eye Disease

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Orbital Decompression for Thyroid Eye Disease

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.

Learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid eye disease. Call our Denver office at (303) 839-1616.

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Finding Solutions for Thyroid Eye Disease

The thyroid gland is small, but rather complex. The hormones and other chemicals produced in this gland need to be in balance for functional health. An overactive thyroid gland can cause a number of concerns, including thyroid eye disease (a complication of Grave’s disease). When abnormal function in the thyroid gland affects the eyes, both vision and cosmetic appearance may be altered.

Thyroid eye disease is recognizable through various symptoms. These include chronic dry eye, irritation such as grittiness and redness, and bulging. The reason why the eyes bulge as a result of Grave’s disease is that the muscles that support the eyeballs shift and become lax. Over time, the protrusion of the eyes can worsen. For this reason, it is vital to consult with an ophthalmic specialist who is familiar with the nuances of thyroid eye disease.

Dr. Fante has extensive knowledge of Grave’s disease and how to treat this condition in collaboration with endocrinologists or general health practitioners. The way in which thyroid eye disease is treated in our Denver facility is determined by the extent of the disease and objectives in the broader treatment plan.

Ophthalmic Treatment for Thyroid Eye Disease

A specialist in thyroid eye disease will use appropriate non-surgical and surgical approaches to correct four of the prominent effects of the autoimmune disorder. These include:

  • Eyelid Changes: Initial symptoms of thyroid eye disease may occur in the eyelids. This is as a result of shifts in muscles and other supportive structures around the eyeballs. Early indications of thyroid eye disease may include persistent puffiness and swelling that flares up at times. Eyelid retraction may also develop, preventing the eyes from closing entirely.
  • Proptosis (Eyelid Bulging): This symptom occurs as the muscles around the eyeball of one or both eyes continues to deteriorate. This allows forward pressure to push the eyeball outward.
  • Double-Vision: A more advanced symptom of thyroid eye disease, double-vision may occur when the muscle structure around the eyes breaks down so much that the eyes are not well-controlled. As the eyes shift out of alignment, the ability to observe objects with absolute clarity diminishes.
  • Optic Neuropathy: The optic nerve is located at the back of the eye. This is where it transmits light to the brain for interpretation. Swelling in the eye compresses the optic nerve, impeding vision. The optic nerve is intensely receptive. The nerve has the potential to be damaged beyond repair if the procedure is not performed correctly.

Schedule a Consultation

Discover how the team in our Denver office can help you manage your ongoing health with appropriate treatment for your condition. Contact us by calling (303) 839-1616 to schedule your consultation.

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