Skip to main content

Thyroid Eye Disease

Lowcountry Eye Specialists

Ophthalmologists located in Ladson, SC

Thyroid eye disease is an autoimmune system disorder that often develops if you have hyperthyroidism. If you're experiencing symptoms of thyroid eye disease such as pain, pressure, and bulging eyes, our board-certified ophthalmologists at Lowcountry Eye Specialists in Ladson, South Carolina, can help. They provide effective treatments for thyroid eye disease, including medication and surgery. To find out how they can help you, call Lowcountry Eye Specialists today or book an appointment online.

Thyroid Eye Disease Q & A

What is thyroid eye disease?

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a problem that develops because of an immune system disorder. It causes inflammation that makes the muscles and other tissue around your eyes swell, and your eyes are likely to feel dry and gritty.

Thyroid eye disease can also cause swelling that affects your eyesight and pushes your eyes forward, so they bulge out from the sockets. If there's a lot of swelling, you might not be able to close your eyes properly. You might also experience these or other problems with your eyes:

  • Irritation
  • Pain
  • Pressure
  • Dryness
  • Excessive watering
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity

In serious cases, which amounts to around 3%-5% of people with thyroid eye disease, you could suffer sight loss.

What causes thyroid eye disease?

Thyroid eye disease develops when your immune system malfunctions and mistakes the tissues in and around the eyes for harmful organisms like bacteria. Just as it does when a real invader enters your body, your immune system produces antibodies, which attack the target tissues.

It's not clear exactly what triggers this faulty immune response. However, most people with thyroid eye disease have Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder where the immune system targets your thyroid gland, resulting in excessive thyroid hormone production.

While Graves' disease isn't the cause of thyroid eye disease, the two conditions often occur at the same time. There's also evidence that treatment for hyperthyroidism using radioactive iodine could make thyroid eye disease worse.

What treatments can relieve thyroid eye disease?

Thyroid eye disease symptoms sometimes go away without treatment, and self-care methods are also useful to help reduce swelling and soothe the eyes. If they don't work or your symptoms are causing you significant problems, the team at Lowcountry Eye Specialists can prescribe medications like steroids that have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect or infusions that have shown to reduce effects of thyroid eye disease.

If you have thyroid eye disease and need radioactive iodine to treat Graves' disease, your provider may prescribe a steroid called prednisone to help keep the condition under control.

If none of these treatments have the required effect, you might need to undergo surgery.

To find out if thyroid eye disease is causing your eye problems, call Lowcountry Eye Specialists and schedule a consultation or request an appointment online today.