What is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Posted: Jul 25th 2023
Categories: Uncategorized

Your thyroid plays a vital role in your health and wellness by regulating many functions in the body. Located at the base of the neck, this butterfly-shaped gland controls the rate of your metabolism, heartbeat, body temperature, women’s menstrual cycles, and even how deeply we breathe.

Some common problems that develop in the thyroid are:

  • Hyperthyroidism – An overactive thyroid that produces too many hormones. This can cause rapid weight loss, irregular heartbeat, or irritability.
  • Hypothyroidism – An underactive thyroid that does not produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism can cause the metabolism to slow, leading to weight gain and feeling depressed.
  • Goiter – An enlarged thyroid often caused by an iodine deficiency. Goiters are common and not always cause for concern unless it begins to cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, coughing, and pain.
  • Nodules – Lumps that develop on the thyroid. Like goiters, nodules are common and most do not require treatment, unless they appear large or are cancerous.

Recently, a rare thyroid disease has been gaining more attention. Thyroid eye disease, or TED, is a disease that causes inflammation of the tissue around the eyes. This gives patients the “bulging eye” look that is characteristic of TED.

What Causes Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)?

There is no direct cause for why thyroid eye disease occurs in some people and not others, there is also no cure for it. However, people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease are shown to be more likely to develop TED.

“Thyroid eye disease is a disease that typically comes with an overactive thyroid. It is a clinical diagnosis, patients have quite a few symptoms very often, and it does usually come with the Graves’ disease which is an overactive thyroid, but not always. The symptoms might include pain in the eyes either just spontaneously or with movement, they may have swelling of the lids, retraction or pulling back of the lids which causes bulging of the eyes, some redness of the eyelids, redness in the white of the eye, or in the inner angle of the eye.”

Toni M. Murphy, DO, FACOI, FACE, Endocrinology, Diabetes Metabolism

In addition to being diagnosed with Graves’ disease, the following factors can also increase your risk of developing TED:

  • Being female
  • Smoking
  • Genetics
  • Previous radioiodine treatment

Thyroid eye disease can cause serious swelling around the eyes, to the point where it may be difficult or impossible to close your eyes all the way. You may also experience redness, irritation or a “gritty” feeling, dryness or watery eyes, pressure, pain, and blurred or double vision.

Treatment and Outlook for TED

Thyroid eye disease can cause serious damage to your eyes and eventually lead to blindness, so the sooner you seek treatment, the better. Treatment options include prescription medications, surgery, and Tepezza, an infusion treatment shown to improve symptoms of thyroid eye disease. If you are a smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do to prevent the disease from progressing.

Catholic Health’s Infusion Pharmacy is proud to be one of the only infusion sites in WNY to offer Tepezza. Thyroid eye disease requires a team approach to care, and you can rest assured knowing our expert team will work closely with your physician to provide the best treatment possible. To learn more about our infusion therapy care, call (716) 706-2112.