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Thyroid Eye Disease

Individuals with thyroid problems often have eye manifestations.  There are 2 types: Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism.

  • Hyper-Thyroidism: is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, causing your body’s metabolism to speed up.
  • Hypo-Thyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone. Individuals feel sluggish and become fatigued easily.  The most common treatment is medication (Synthroid [synthetic thyroid hormone] or Levothyroxine, the generic form of the medication.

HyperThyroidism or Grave’s disease, cause inflammation of the muscles that move the eyes and tissue surrounding the eyes.  It causes the eyes to appears as though they are bulging out and can cause double vision.

Common symptoms include irritation or a gritty feeling, as though something is in the eye.  It can cause excessive tearing, dry eye, swelling or puffiness of the eyelids, redness of the white part of the eye (conjunctiva), or eye pain.

Graves’ disease affects about one in every 200 people, according to the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors for thyroid eye disease include:

  • A history of smoking: Cigarette smoking raises your risk and can also lead to more severe cases of thyroid eye disease.
  • Gender: Women are much more likely to develop thyroid eye disease than men.
  • Age: Middle-aged people are more likely to develop this condition, too.

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) may cause swelling around the eyes and a loss of the eyebrow hair. The lids may droop, and the eyes and face may become puffy.  The eyes can feel dry or gritty or feel like something is in the eye.

Untreated hypothyroidism can cause obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.  Other common symptoms are fatigue, cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, and unexplained weight gain.  Facial expressions become dull, the voice may be hoarse, speech is slow,

Treatment for thyroid eye disease is effective.  We are happy to help you manage your condition and preserve your vision.