Thyroid Eye Disease Overview
Thyroid eye disease, also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy or Graves’ orbitopathy, is an autoimmune condition that primarily affects the eyes. It is commonly associated with an underlying thyroid condition, particularly Graves’ disease, which is an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid gland.
The exact cause of thyroid eye disease is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from an immune system response that targets the tissues around the eyes. This immune response is often triggered by an underlying thyroid dysfunction, specifically Graves' disease.
Thyroid eye disease can cause various eye-related symptoms, which may vary in severity from mild to severe. Common symptoms include bulging eyes (exophthalmos), redness and inflammation of the eyes, swelling of the eyelids, dryness or grittiness in the eyes, double vision, light sensitivity, and difficulty moving the eyes.
The disease generally follows a course of active and inactive phases. During the active phase, symptoms can worsen, and the condition may progress. In the inactive phase, the symptoms stabilize or improve. The duration of each phase can vary for individuals.
A diagnosis of thyroid eye disease is typically made based on the presence of eye-related symptoms, a physical examination of the eyes, and medical history. Additional tests, such as imaging scans (CT or MRI) and blood tests, may be ordered to evaluate the extent of the disease and assess thyroid function.
The management of thyroid eye disease often involves a team of healthcare professionals, including ophthalmologists, endocrinologists (for thyroid-related concerns), and sometimes surgeons specializing in oculoplastic or orbital surgery. Collaboration among these specialists helps in providing comprehensive care tailored to the individual's needs. It's important for individuals with thyroid eye disease to work closely with their healthcare providers to monitor the condition, manage symptoms, and address any underlying thyroid issues.
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