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Thyroid Eye Disease

Graves' Disease

Graves’ disease is a thyroid-associated disorder and one of the most common eye disorders. Many details of the disease remain poorly understood, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system reacts abnormally to normal body tissues, sending autoantibodies that attach to receptors in the thyroid and tissues surrounding the eyes. Graves’ disease may cause inflammation of the eyes and surrounding soft tissues and may result in double vision or even vision loss. Patients often feel congested or sense pressure around the eyes. The inflammation may cause the upper and lower eyelids to retract and the eyes to bulge. This may result in significant exposure and drying of the surface of the eye, causing irritation and discomfort. In severe cases, inflammation may result in compression or stretching of the optic nerve, potentially causing loss of vision.

Thyroid Eye Disease - Graves' Disease - Reconstructive Surgery - TOC Eye and Face

Often, the eye symptoms of Graves’ disease develop with the onset of hyperthyroidism. However, sometimes the eye symptoms of Graves’ disease develops without any thyroid problems at the time, and after weeks, months, or even years later hyperthyroidism develops. Unfortunately, despite ongoing research, treatment of the thyroid appears to have minimal, if any, effect on the symptoms of Graves’ eye disease.

Ultimately, surgery may be necessary to correct eye problems associated with Graves’ disease. But unless there is an immediate threat to vision, it is usually necessary to defer surgery until eye abnormalities have stabilized, a process that may take up to two years or more.

Artificial tear drops, gels and lubricating eye ointments may be helpful in the management of irritation during this time. Steroid anti-inflammatory medication may be administered orally or injected to decrease inflammation around the eye in the interim.

As our patient you or your loved one will receive evaluation and treatment by one of our elite oculoplastic surgeons, each with advanced specialized credentials, to give you the uncompromising care and extraordinary results we are known for.

Most procedures may be performed in an ambulatory surgery center setting. Outpatient (ambulatory) surgery helps to reduce hospital costs, personal expense, and length of stay for patients needing surgery. For those times when surgery is best performed at a hospital, TOC physicians have surgical privileges at all Austin-area hospitals and many ambulatory surgery centers.

We understand that any patient may feel anxious or apprehensive about treatment. Our goal is to help you or your loved one feel at ease. We engage each patient with sensitivity and respect for his or her individual needs.

More information about Graves’ thyroid eye disease can be found at:

Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation

Thyroid Foundation of America

American Thyroid Association

If you would like more information about the treatment of Graves’ disease, please don’t hesitate to request complimentary information from TOC by email at info@tocaustin.com. You may also schedule a private consultation with a TOC physician.

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