What is Thyroid Eye Disease?
Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) is an auto immune condition in which the eye muscles and tissues behind the eye become inflamed. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the back of the eye and causes inflammation. As a result of TED, the eyes can be pushed forward and the eyes and eyelids may get swollen. Sometimes, the eye muscles that move the eyes get stiff and swollen and due to this the eyes are not aligned perfectly causing double vision.
TED is often associated with an over-active thyroid due to Graves’ disease but can sometimes occur in people with an under-active or normally functioning thyroid.
Some common symptoms of TED
• Change in the appearance of the eyes typically staring or bulging eyes.
• Dry or watery eyes
• Aversion to bright lights
• Swelling or feeling of fullness in one or both upper eyelids
• Under eye bags or redness of the lids and eyes
• Blurred or double vision
• Pain in or behind the eye, especially when looking up, down or sideways
Can you do anything to prevent TED or stop it from becoming worse?
If you smoke, do try to give it up as you will respond better to TED treatment if you are a non-smoker
Try and keep your thyroid levels steady and in control through regular monitoring, intake of medication and following the advice of your doctor.
Studies suggest that the patients with mild active TED may benefit from a six month course of selenium supplements
Treatment options for people with TED
In mild cases where eyes feel gritty and water a lot or cannot face bright lights, artificial tear drops will help ease the symptoms. Selenium supplements are beneficial to patients with mild TED. If you have other symptoms ask your doctor (the specialist looking after your thyroid) to refer you to an ophthalmologist (an eye doctor).
Many people with TED are left with a permanent change, usually in the physical appearance of their eyes or sometimes double vision. Surgery can improve appearance. In more severe cases it can be combined with other treatments such as steroids and radiotherapy.