Graves’ disease, or thyroid eye disease, is a condition affecting the tissue surrounding the eye that is caused when the body’s immune system begins attacking the thyroid gland. Sufferers of thyroid eye disease may have difficulty closing their eyes, leading to a great deal of discomfort. Surgical and non-surgical treatments can help treat the symptoms of thyroid eye disease, and an experienced oculoplastic surgeon can help you make informed decisions about how best to address your Graves’ disease symptoms.
With over 27 years of experience, Dr. Geoffrey M. Kwitko, M.D., is one of the most trusted oculoplastic surgeons serving Brandon, Florida. As a clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of South Florida and the editor-in-chief of the Electronic Journal of the Neuro-Ophthalmic Surgical Society, his credentials have earned him international distinction as one of the field’s leading practitioners.
Symptoms can vary depending on the individual and how far the disease has progressed. The most common symptoms of thyroid eye disease include retraction of the eyelids, redness, eye irritation, excessive watering of the eyes, swelling of the eyelids and surrounding tissue, difficulty closing the eyes completely, chronic dry eye, double vision, and sensitivity to light.
If you have a history of thyroid problems and are experiencing symptoms of thyroid eye disease, early intervention is key. Treatment can be as simple as prescription medication or regular application of lubricant to the eye, and surgical intervention is usually done on an outpatient basis.
Eyelid retraction surgery is commonly used in mild or moderate cases of thyroid eye disease. This procedure helps your eyelids close more easily, reducing irritation to the cornea and improving the look of the eyes. Eyelid retraction surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, usually under local anesthesia, and recovery time is minimal.
For more severe cases of thyroid eye disease, orbital decompression surgery is often necessary to relieve pressure on the optic nerve and minimize the potential for vision problems. By moving the bones around the eye area, an oculoplastic surgeon can create space for swelling tissue so that it puts less pressure on the optic nerve. Orbital decompression is also performed as an outpatient procedure, but usually under general anesthesia.
If you suspect you may have thyroid eye disease, don’t wait for symptoms to worsen before you speak to a veteran oculoplastic surgeon.