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Wilmer Eye Institute

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Orbital Disease

Orbital tumors

The orbit  (the eye socket) and the eyelids work in conjunction to protect the eye and its muscles. Various tumors may grow or spread to the eye socket or the eyelids and must be removed in order to protect our patient’s vision. Our team of oculoplastic surgeons will make recommendations based on the size and location of the tumor.

Thyroid eye disease (Graves’ disease)

An autoimmune disease also affecting the thyroid gland, Graves’ disease may lead to a specific disorder known as thyroid eye disease. Patients with thyroid eye disease typically experience inflammation and swelling around the eyes. Only about 5 % of patients with Graves’ disease develop thyroid eye disease that is severe enough to require medical attention. For those severe cases, the surgeon will generally recommend medical or surgical treatment, such as orbital decompression surgery or eyelid surgery, to alleviate the dry eyes and restore the normal appearance. In rare instances, emergent surgery is necessary to save vision from severe compression of the optic nerve or from corneal exposure.

Orbital decompression surgery

Orbital decompression surgery is the name given to those procedures designed to enlarge the eye socket, thus reducing the pressure on the optic nerve and the bulging of the eye (proptosis). It involves removing orbital fat, bone or both. It is done under general anesthesia and can be performed at the same time with certain eyelid procedures designed to reduce the corneal exposure and dryness. Although a reconstructive procedure covered by insurance, it has a dramatic effect on the patient’s appearance, as well.

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