Thyroid Orbitopathy


Patients with thyroid disease (hyperactive more commonly than underactive) frequently develop eye findings consistent with bulging eyes, or a “thyroid stare.” The eye muscles may also be affected, causing restricted movement of the eyes and preventing the eyes from moving effectively, resulting in double vision. If the muscles become too congested, or the eye bulges too much, pressure could be placed on the optic nerve putting the patient at risk for blindness.

Thyroid orbitopathy treatment

Much of the discomfort associated with thyroid orbitopathy is usually related to exposure of the cornea, which may be treated with various forms of lubrication. When there is active inflammation with more significant symptoms, the treatment may involve oral or intra orbital (injected behind the eye by a certified surgeon) steroids. When the eye is bulging and pressure is placed on the optic nerve, Dr. Schwarcz can perform an orbital decompression, which involves surgically removing a small portion of the bone behind the eye as well as some fat stored behind the eye. Poor eye alignment causing double vision could be corrected by surgically adjusting the position of the eye muscles as they come in contact with the eyeball.

Another effect of thyroid orbitopathy is that the eyelids themselves could be retracted (upper or lower), causing what it commonly referred to as the thyroid stare. Dr. Schwarcz can correct this symptom surgically. This procedure will allow for improved closure of the eyelids, an overall enhanced cosmetic appearance, in addition to resulting comfort. This procedure can be considered in conjunction with eyelid blepharoplasty for dramatic results.

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