Thyroid Eye Disease
Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Why Seek Treatment?
Thyroid eye disease (TED) results in damage to the muscles and fatty tissue behind the eyes, causing swelling, pain, redness, double vision, watering or dryness, and bulging eyes (proptosis). Thyroid eye disease can be treated with a range of over-the-counter medications and prescription oral medications. However, IV therapy may be recommended for more severe cases.
What Is Thyroid Eye Disease?
Thyroid eye disease (TED) is an autoimmune disorder that most commonly develops as a secondary disorder of Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that results in the enlargement of the thyroid, inducing excess secretion of the thyroid hormone. In other cases, TED may develop due to an overactive (hyper) or underactive (hypo) thyroid.
TED develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks the muscles and fatty tissues behind the eyes. And while the exact cause of TED is unknown, researchers believe that the proteins in the tissue around the eyes mimic that of the thyroid gland, causing antibodies to attack the area.
Some individuals may have a genetic susceptibility for TED, especially those with a family history or who have an autoimmune disease. Additionally, smokers and women have a greater risk of developing thyroid eye disease.
Thyroid Eye Disease Symptoms
Thyroid eye disease can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms ranging in severity. Some of the signs and symptoms of TED include:
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Redness surrounding the eye
- Double vision
- Irritation and a “gritty” feeling
- Pain behind the eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Bulging eyes (proptosis)
- Difficulty closing the eyes
In extreme cases, thyroid eye disease can lead to blindness. It’s important that individuals with TED receive treatment to manage their symptoms.
Diagnosing and Treating Thyroid Eye Disease
Your doctor may perform several tests if you are experiencing symptoms of thyroid eye disease.
Tests may include:
- Blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels
- CT scans to examine the eye
- Ultrasound of the eye
Treatment for thyroid eye disease varies per individual depending on the severity of symptoms. Those with mild TED may wear darkening glasses to address light sensitivity or use artificial tears to combat dryness. Eyepatches may be worn to help reduce double vision.
In more severe cases, corticosteroids (medications to reduce swelling) may be prescribed. However, these medications do not treat eye bulging. In extreme cases, orbital decompression surgery may be performed to reposition the eye and return it to a more natural position. This is often performed for individuals who are at a risk of blindness or significant vision loss caused by optic nerve pressure.
IV therapy is now an option for people suffering from TED. Unlike other treatments for thyroid eye disease, IV therapy is administered directly into the bloodstream and treats both the cause and the symptoms of TED. Many people have had significant reduction of proptosis (eye bulging) after completing a course of IV therapy.
Get Started with Infusion Therapy
For Patients Seeking Treatment
If your doctor recommends IV therapy as a treatment for thyroid eye disease, ask them to send a referral to FlexCare Infusion Centers. We are industry leaders for second course thyroid eye disease IV approvals, and help our patients receive the treatment they need faster than leading infusion centers.
For Referring Providers
If you’d like to refer a TED patient to FlexCare Infusion Centers, complete a referral form and fax or email it to our intake team.
If you have any questions about thyroid eye disease or infusion therapy, contact us directly. We look forward to helping you on your journey to better health.