Thyroid eye disease is sometimes the first sign of thyroid problems, but more often, it is a symptom of known thyroid illness. Thyroid eye disease may be an autoimmune disorder, where the patient’s immune system attacks healthy tissues around the eyes. One symptom of thyroid eye disease is eye pain. If the pain is because of compression of the optic nerve, it could be vision-threatening and lead to permanent damage. If you have eye pain and thyroid disease, it is important to seek the opinion of an oculoplastic surgeon.
Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease
Not everyone with thyroid disease will develop thyroid eye disease, and for those who do, it is often mild and easily treatable. Thyroid eye disease pain is not always cause for alarm and responds well to basic treatment. However, some symptoms are more concerning than others. They can have both a physical and emotional component and cause patient distress. Some causes for concern with thyroid eye disease are:
- Itchy eyes, dry eyes, wet eyes and eyes that can switch between dry and wet throughout the day.
- Swelling of the orbital area, causing pain and/or pushing the eye forward, creating a bulging stare.
- Swelling and bulging that prevent the eyelids from closing, leading to painful corneal ulcers.
- Swelling that compresses the optic nerve, causing abnormal color vision, decreased vision levels, dimming of surroundings, double vision and sometimes complete vision loss.
Surgical Treatment for Thyroid Eye Disease
The inflammation of thyroid eye disease can last several years, and until it stabilizes, surgery is usually not recommended. Instead, eye drops, steroids and other conservative treatments are used. Once the swelling has passed, any distortions in appearance can be surgically corrected by repositioning the eyelids.
Serious changes, such as optic nerve compression, need to be addressed immediately. Orbital decompression surgery removes small amounts of orbital bone, and the eye is no longer compressed in the socket.
It is vital that your eyes are examined and treated by an oculoplastic surgeon with extensive experience in orbital reconstruction. Contact the office of reconstructive eye surgeon Dr. Kami Parsa today for a comprehensive evaluation.