Facts, Myths, and Treatments for Thyroid Eye Disease banner

Facts, Myths, and Treatments for Thyroid Eye Disease

By kep2020 November 3, 2022

Thyroid Eye Disease, also known as Graves ophthalmopathy, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the tissue surrounding the eye. Thyroid Eye Disease causes swelling, painful eye movement or even stiffness of the eye muscles. People with Thyroid Eye Disease often complain of a gritty feeling in the eye, as well as excessively dry or watery eyes. Bulging eyes are also a common symptom of Thyroid Eye Disease. Below, find some facts and myths surrounding Thyroid Eye Disease.

FACT: Thyroid Eye Disease is rare. Although thyroid disorders are common, Thyroid Eye Disease is not. It’s estimated that the incidence rate is roughly 16 per 100,000 females and under 3 per 100,000 males. This mirrors the incidence rate of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism; both are more common in women than men.

MYTH: Thyroid Eye Disease is caused by hypothyroidism. Thyroid Eye Disease is much more common in those with Graves’ disease and overactive thyroids, although it can occasionally present in patients with hypothyroidism.

FACT: Thyroid Eye Disease cannot be prevented. While true that Thyroid Eye Disease cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to ensure that Thyroid Eye Disease does not worsen over time. If you are a smoker, quitting can significantly reduce the disease’s progression. Keeping up with thyroid medications is also important in slowing or halting the disease’s progress. Although Thyroid Eye Disease cannot be reversed, simple actions like wearing sunglasses or using a cooling compress on your eyes can dramatically reduce pain and other symptoms.

MYTH: Thyroid Eye Disease will go away on its own. Thyroid Eye Disease cannot be reversed on its own, although some patients do see a slight reduction in symptoms like eye bulging upon treatment.

There are a variety of treatment options for Thyroid Eye Disease, ranging from observation to surgical intervention. First and foremost, the underlying thyroid disease must be treated. Symptoms can be treated through targeted medication, such as eye drops for dry eyes. Prescription anti-inflammatory steroids may also be prescribed to bring down swelling. If all else fails, surgical options to reconstruct the eyelids, muscles or orbital bone exist.