Our bodies contain a gland known as the thyroid located at the front of the neck, near the base. The thyroid is responsible for secreting and regulating thyroid hormones. These hormones are essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism, the chemical process within our cells that is responsible for sustaining life.
Some individuals experience a malfunction of the thyroid gland that can cause it to underproduce thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) or overproduce thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). A common cause of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease known as Grave’s disease. Individuals who suffer from hyperthyroidism as a result of Grave’s disease are prone to developing thyroid eye disease.
Patients who are suffering from thyroid eye disease experience a swelling of the tissue that surrounds the eye. Early symptoms of thyroid eye disease include:
- Redness around the eye
- Frequent eye watering
- Sensitivity to light
- Eyelid swelling
- A retraction of the eyelid
As the swelling progresses, it can begin to force the eye forward within the eye socket, causing one or both eyes to bulge outward from their sockets. The pressure created from this issue can cause the optic nerve to become compressed or stretched, resulting in impairment in color vision, blurry vision, and a complete loss of vision.
In some cases, the muscles that surround the eyes may become swollen, which will restrict eye movement and lead to eye soreness or the development of double vision.
If there is a risk of vision loss due to thyroid eye disease, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to remove some of the bone around the orbit. This will allow the eye to fall back into place within the orbit, which will reduce the compression being placed on the optical nerve.
If you are experiencing complications as a result of thyroid eye disease, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with fellowship-trained oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Laquis.