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.