Autoimmune thyroid eye disease, or Graves’ Disease, is a condition that causes the muscles and soft tissues of your eye socket to swell. It happens when you have a problem with your thyroid gland and can affect the eye lids and eye socket in addition to the systemic effects on other organ systems. The eyes are particularly vulnerable to Graves’ Disease because the autoimmune attack often targets the eye muscles and connective tissue within the eye socket.
Patients with autoimmune thyroid disease (Graves’ Disease) may have a surprised look, bulging eyes or double vision.
The first priority in managing thyroid eye disease is ensuring that the cornea and optic nerve are not at risk of permanent damage. As the systemic disease is controlled under the care of an endocrinologist, the eye lid and eye socket changes are monitored regularly until noted to be stable for 6 months to a year. At that point, surgery can be considered to restore normal anatomy and function to the eye lids and eye socket. Dr. Vickers does not perform surgery for the double vision frequently associated with thyroid eye disease but will refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist who performs strabismus (misaligned eyes) surgery.