Thyroid issues seem to be prevalent in and around my social circle at present. One disorder that can affect the sufferers eye sight is a condition called Graves disease.This is an autoimmune disorder that makes the thyroid gland overactive (hyperthyroidism).
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones to help balance and regulate your metabolism. Thyroid Associated Ophthalmopathy (TAO) or thyroid eye disease is so named when Graves disease effects the patients eyes normally manifesting before the patient turns forty.
The muscles and soft tissues surrounding the eye can swell if there is too much thyroid hormone being produced. If the inside muscles nerves and vessels swell within the bony structure in which our eyeball sits the eyes appear to " bulge out". This can lead to physical difficulties in moving the eyes, and cause double vision for the patient, usually one of the common signs of thyroid opthalmopathy.
Women are prone to the condition over men and there is a high risk of congenital passing on of the condition. If you are a smoker. under a lot of stress, pregnant or already suffer from an autoimmune disorder then you are increasingly at risk of developing Graves.
Other factors that can increase your risk for Graves’ disease include:
Diagnosis of Graves disease will be made by your optician who will examine for signs of protrusion or any eye irritation. Your blood pressure and a blood test may also be ordered to look at levels of your thyroid hormones. In some cases swelling of eye muscles can be picked up in a CT Scan.
The difficulties that arise out of a diagnosis of Graves Disease for the patient can be treated both surgically and non surgically. Oral Steroids may be prescribed to assist inflamed eye muscles and a lubricating ointment may be given to relieve dry eye. Surgery can be provided to help with double vision or eyelid retraction to help protect the eye.
In advanced cases orbital decompression may be treated for eye bulging, where pinpointed breaks are made into the orbital bones to allow the swelling to expand.