Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

4 minute read

By Editorial Staff

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) often occurs with thyroid disorders, causing swelling to the tissues around the eyes. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about TED with a search online right now, which could help you spot early symptoms.

This inflammation can lead to changes in appearance, discomfort, and in severe cases, it can affect vision. The symptoms can range from mild irritation to severe vision impairment, making it a condition that requires careful attention and management.

Understanding Thyroid Eye Disease

TED is an autoimmune condition linked to thyroid issues like Graves’ disease. While it primarily affects people with an overactive thyroid, it can also appear in individuals with normal thyroid function. It causes the immune system to attack the eye muscles and surrounding tissues, leading to inflammation.

This can result in bulging eyes, red and swollen eyelids, and sometimes double vision. Rarely, TED may cause blindness due to optic nerve pressure or corneal ulcers. Smokers are significantly more likely to develop TED than non-smokers, highlighting the importance of awareness and management of this condition.

Early Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

The symptoms of TED vary widely among individuals. Early symptoms include mild but noticeable issues like eye itching, dryness, excessive tearing, or redness. For example, it might start out as an itchiness or dryness in the eyes, which can make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. However, as the condition progresses, patients may experience swelling around the eyes, causing a bulging look (exophthalmos). There might also be pain during eye movement, light sensitivity, and double vision (diplopia).

TED involves inflammation affecting both the eyes and surrounding tissues, leading to potential movement or vision difficulties as it progresses. The severity of TED can fluctuate, often lasting six months to two years, with reduced recurrence risk after being inactive for around six months.

Advanced Symptoms

In the advanced stages of TED, the symptoms become more severe and concerning. According to experts, double vision is a common issue in severe cases. This happens because the muscles around the eye struggle to function properly as the eye bulges forward. Patients may also experience flares—periods where redness, swelling, and grittiness worsen and then improve.

However, symptoms like bulging eyes and decreased vision typically don’t go away without treatment. In the most severe form of TED, there’s a risk of vision loss. This occurs when the optic nerve, connecting the eyeball to the brain, gets compressed. With such serious risks, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention if these advanced symptoms are noticed.

What Causes Thyroid Eye Disease?

TED happens when the body gets a bit mixed up. Normally, our immune system protects us from germs and things that make us sick, but with TED, the body mistakes its own tissue around the eyes as “bad guys.” As a result, it sends out special cells called antibodies to fight them. These antibodies attack the fat, muscle, and other tissues near the eyes.

It’s a bit of a mystery why this happens. Even experts aren’t completely sure what causes the immune system to respond this way in some people. Researchers are working hard to understand all the reasons behind it. It’s like solving a big puzzle to help people with TED.

Treatment Options for Thyroid Eye Disease

While TED isn’t curable, treatments can minimize discomfort. Mild cases benefit from lubricating eye drops, artificial tears, elevated head during sleep, sunglasses for light sensitivity, and cool compresses. For severe cases, corticosteroids like prednisone reduce swelling, and Tepezza (teprotumumab-trbw) is an FDA-approved medication for TED.

In rare, serious cases, orbital decompression surgery may be necessary to create more space for the eye, potentially improving vision but with a risk of double vision. Eye muscle surgery may be needed for double vision, sometimes requiring multiple procedures.

Tips for Living with Thyroid Eye Disease

Living with TED can be challenging, but there are some helpful tips to make it easier. First, if you smoke, try to quit. Smoking can actually make TED treatments work less well. Also, consider taking selenium supplements, which you can find at most stores without a prescription. They can help with your symptoms.

Another important thing is to keep your thyroid hormone levels normal. You can do this by getting your blood tested regularly and following your doctor’s advice, including taking any medications they prescribe.

Learn More About Thyroid Eye Disease Today!

Thyroid eye disease is a complex condition with significant impacts on the eyes. Recognizing the signs early can lead to better outcomes. If you experience any symptoms, consult a healthcare provider promptly. With proper management, many people with TED maintain a good quality of life.

By searching online, you can also discover more about the signs, symptoms, and ways to deal with this condition. Whether it’s understanding how to spot early signs or finding out about the latest treatments, the internet is a great resource. Dive in and start learning more about TED today! Your journey to knowing more and staying informed is just a few clicks away!

Editorial Staff