Hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid gland, involves an excess of hormone production that can lead to weight loss, irregular heartbeat, and irritability. One of the most common reasons for an overactive thyroid gland is Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies cause the thyroid to produce too much thyroxine. In more severe cases of thyroid eye disease, surgical treatment may be recommended by the board-certified ophthalmologists at Oculoplastic Associates of Texas in Dallas and Plano. Depending upon the way the condition is affecting the eyes, procedures may be considered to relieve the pressure on the optic nerve (orbital decompression), reposition the muscles of the eye, or alter the eyelid tissue (eyelid retraction repair) in order to relieve the eye and improve the patient’s appearance.
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Orbital decompression surgery creates more space in the eye socket so the inflamed tissue has a new area to spread into, which relieves pressure on the optic nerve. For patients with double vision from thyroid eye disease, strabismus surgery adjusts the muscles of the eye or eyes to a correct position. If the eyelids have been contracted as a result of the eye bulging, eyelid retraction repair is performed with conscious sedation so the surgeon can optimize the position of the upper and lower eyelids. If needed, ear cartilage may be harvested and grafted to the eyelid.
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Thyroid Eye Disease FAQs
Signs and Symptoms?
Thyroid eye disease may cause symptoms within the eyes such as bulging, double vision, swollen eyelids, and dry eyes. The swollen fat tissue in the eye socket may decrease the eyeball’s range of motion and cause eye fatigue. Other signs may include watering, red, and light-sensitive eyes.
If symptoms are mild, conservative treatment may be attempted using lubricating eye drops, protective eye coverings, and prism lenses. Oral steroids are sometimes prescribed for short-term use to relieve swelling and discomfort.
Who's at Risk?
While thyroid eye disease can occur in men and women of any age, it is more common in women and patients over the age of 45. Thyroid eye disease may occur at the same time as hyperthyroid or hypothyroid, but it can also develop without any thyroid malfunctions.