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School of Medicine
Orbital decompression surgery is performed to relieve exophthalmos, a condition associated with Graves' disease, which causes the eyes to bulge and may lead to loss of vision.
Orbital Decompression: Why It's Performed
Patients typically elect to undergo this procedure when the symptoms of exophthalmos become severe. This stage of the disease may include:
- Chronic eye pain or headaches
- Chronic eye irritation causing scar tissue over the cornea (keratitis)
- Optic neuropathy and loss of vision
Orbital Decompression: Goals of the Procedure
The primary goal of an orbital decompression surgery is to create more space in the orbit to allow the eye to return to a more normal position.
Orbital Decompression: What to Expect
Performed under general anesthesia, a surgeon will work endoscopically through the nose to remove the bones of the medial and inferior orbit. Often, the ophthalmology team at the Wilmer Eye Institute will simultaneously perform a lateral orbital decompression. Endoscopic orbital decompression surgery does not involve cutting through the skin, as it is performed entirely through the nostrils. Therefore, there is usually no external bruising or swelling associated with endoscopic orbital decompression. Patients are typically observed in the hospital overnight to monitor vision.