WebMD: Eyes Bulging, Not Feeling Quite Right? It Could Be Thyroid Eye Disease
WebMD recently interviewed surgeon Raymond Douglas, MD, PhD, professor of Surgery and director of the Thyroid Eye Disease Program at Cedars-Sinai, about the signs of thyroid eye disease and how to treat it.
Thyroid eye disease is a rare autoimmune condition that causes swelling, inflammation, and damage in the muscles and tissues around the eyes.
Symptoms can include redness, dryness, discomfort, irritation or pain behind the eyes as well as eyelid retraction or bulging eyes. Fortunately, "the majority of cases are mild," Douglas told WebMD.
The condition often affects people who also have Graves' disease, which causes the body to make too much thyroid hormone. About 80% of patients with thyroid eye disease have already been diagnosed with Graves', but some people with the disease don’t have a thyroid condition at all, according to Douglas.
People often blame aging or allergies for their eye issues, and their symptoms might be dismissed by their provider as mild allergies, Douglas said. But if patients notice their eyes bulging, or if they experience vision changes or eyelids that won't close completely, Douglas advised seeing a doctor. "Don’t settle for an unsatisfactory answer," he told WebMD.
Once a patient receives a diagnosis of thyroid eye disease, their treatment could involve a team of experts. "It's a team approach between primarily endocrinologists and oculoplastic surgeons," Douglas told WebMD. "Then, depending on the severity, they'll be sent to someone like me, an oculoplastic surgeon, who will then talk to them about medical therapies versus surgical therapies."
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