Thyroid eye disease, also known as Graves' disease, causes inflammation in the soft tissues of the eye socket, and can lead to compression of the optic nerve and damage to the cornea if left untreated. This compression can result in double vision or even vision loss. Not all patients will progress to later stages of the disease, but early diagnosis and monitoring is essential.
The early, mild stage is characterized by redness, swelling, difficulty closing eyelids and excessive tearing caused by dry eye. Bulging of the eyes can give the patient a "startled" appearance. In later stages, patients experience increased pain and pressure behind the eye and increased swelling.
In later stages, patients can develop cornea ulceration, leading to cataracts and possibly vision loss.
Wilmer provides a multidisciplinary care plan for patients with thyroid eye disease. The challenging and potentially debilitating symptoms of thyroid eye disease often require coordinated ophthalmic specialty care. Our patients have access to medical and surgical expertise in neuro-ophthalmology (optic nerve involvement; orbital surgery, to reduce bulging of the eyes), strabismus (double vision), oculoplastics (eyelid appearance and function; orbital surgery) and cornea (dry eye, cataracts).