Eye Problems Associated With Graves’ Disease

Graves' disease can affect your entire body, but it can especially affect your eyes and your eyesight. Graves' eye disease is also known as thyroid eye disease or TED. It is often uncomfortable without treatment and could even lead to permanent changes in the eye. Here is more information about Graves' eye disease and what your ophthalmologist can do for you.

What Is Graves' Eye Disease?

Graves' disease is an uncommon autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroidism. It affects several key parts of the body. Most Graves' disease patients are diagnosed in their middle-age years, and females are more likely to have it than males. A significant number of Graves' disease sufferers also develop related eye issues a short time after being diagnosed. These eye issues range from minor to severe and often come and go over many years.

What Are the Symptoms of Graves' Eye Disease?

Minor Graves' eye disease symptoms include a gritty feeling under the eyelids as well as red, irritated-looking eyes. You could experience increased light sensitivity, swollen eyelids, and even double vision. More advanced cases involve severe bulging and restricted eye movement as well as possible corneal ulcers. You may feel like your eyes are being pushed out from the back of your eye sockets. It's also not uncommon to have very noticeable bags under the eyes.

How Does Graves' Eye Disease Affect Vision?

If severe cases are not treated promptly, the swelling and eyelid problems can cause difficulty with closing your eyes. If this happens, the cornea could dry out and become scratched and scarred. Swelling and muscle issues contribute to visual acuity problems such as double vision. Bulging eyes could affect the optic nerve lead to glaucoma and loss of peripheral vision.

How Is Graves' Eye Disease Treated?

Mild cases are often treated with eye drops, anti-inflammatory medications, and home remedies like cold compresses. Your doctor will make recommendations as to exact products and methods. You may also benefit from wearing sunglasses if you have sensitive eyes. Severe cases that affect the eyesight may benefit from surgery. Milder cases often improve and go into remission for a while, but could return.

If you were diagnosed with Graves' disease, talk to your ophthalmologist about Graves' eye disease before you have symptoms. Some Graves' disease treatments could make your eye problems worse. So it's important that your ophthalmologist and endocrinologist are aware of your eye issues and treatment plans. Even if you don't have any known thyroid issues, see an ophthalmology specialist if you have any changes in the appearance and function of your eyes.