Also called Grave's disease, thyroid eye disease is the most common orbital disorder in adults. It often occurs in people who have developed an overactive thyroid gland. Swelling of the tissues in the orbits cause the eyes to become bigger. Very often, the eyes take on a more staring look and in more severe cases; the swelling may become the reason of for stiffness. This may result in double vision. Thyroid eye disease is also known as dysthyroid eye disease or thyroid orbitopathy.
What actually Causes Thyroid Eye Disease?
People who have or had thyroid eye disease will certainly develop an overactive thyroid gland. In 20%, this disease develops in people who do not have an overactive thyroid at that time. In 40% the thyroid eye disease occurs years after the overactive thyroid treated in a good way. Over activity of the thyroid gland is mainly caused by an 'autoimmune condition' which means that cells will normally protect the body from infection and start to recognize the thyroid gland. This excites the thyroid gland to produce extra thyroid hormones. The attacking process can spill over to the cells behind the eye causing it to swell. This harmful disease appears to be more common in smokers.
Smoking increases the risk by 8 fold. The risk is quite severe in older women and worse in males.
What are the Symptoms?
The common symptoms include grittiness of the eyes and mild soreness. The eyes may become sensitive to light, uncomfortable and watery. Also, there might be some puffiness around the eyes worse in morning. But, there is a solution as well. Give up smoking and keep a track on the thyroid blood level may help in putting a stop on the advancement of the disease and the related eye issues.
Treating the Overactive Thyroid Condition
Without the treatment, thyroid eye disease is not likely to get better. During the treatment of the overactive thyroid, the disease can get worse. If radioactive iodine therapy is used then you will be requested to take a steroid for at least a period of 3 months. The medical specialist will check your thyroid function on a regular basis so that the thyroid replacement hormone medicine can start as quickly as possible to prevent the growth of an under active thyroid and this may even worsen the thyroid eye condition if left uncured, so it makes sense for it's early treatment and detection.
How Thyroid Disease Treated?
- If you have staring eyes then this will settle with time, but if the problem is severe then the look can be improved with the help of surgery.
- For the deteriorating vision, special procedure with powerful drugs might be required to wet down the redness around the eyes. Also, radiotherapy or orbital decompression procedure may be considered.
- If there is in the eyes, then artificial tears might be the ideal solution to get rid of this problem. These drops are painless and can be applied as you want.
If the inflammation around the eyes is relentless then powerful drugs may be needed to control the autoimmune process, which actually attacks the eyes. In reducing the swelling of the eyes, steroids are quite effective but they may cause diabetes, thinning of the bones and weight gain if it is continued for a longer period of time. Therefore, steroids are used only under the supervision of a specialist and sometimes a tablet known as azathioprine is used in accumulation with the steroids so that the same degree of treatment can be accomplished with a smaller dose of steroids.
Now, if your eyes are affected lightly then they may return to a normal stage quickly. This may take between 12-24 months and if your eyes are affected severely then in this situation you may need further treatment, which will be quite beneficial in augmenting the look of your eyes. Dr. Myint will talk to you regarding the finest options available to treat your eyes.