Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Graves’ eye disease also referred as thyroid eye disease implies an autoimmune condition, where immune cells attack the thyroid glands, which respond based on secretion of thyroid hormone in excessive amounts. Because of this, thyroid glands enlarge and produce excessive hormones leading to increase in metabolism.

Hypermetabolic condition characterizes palpitations, fast pulse rate or heartbeat, profuse sweating, irritability, high blood pressure, weight loss, fatigue, heat intolerance and hair loss or alterations in the quality of air. When the human’s immune system attacks eyes tissues, it causes expansion of eye muscles and makes it fat.

Human eyes are specifically vulnerable to Graves’ eye problem, as the autoimmune system attack often targets the muscles across the human eyes and connected tissues present in the eye socket. This takes place because such tissues incorporate proteins, which seem to be similar to the immune systems of an individual’s thyroid glands. Ocular symptoms associated with Graves’ disease range from a few mild issues to severe ones. However, only 10percent or 20 percent of total patients deal with sight threatening problem.

Can Graves’ Disease Affect Your Eyes?

Can Graves’ Disease Affect Your Eyes?

How Graves’ disease affects human vision? Graves’ disease affects human eyes in many ways, including the problems with three major vision components.

  • The disease causes blurred vision, which may reflect eye’s dryness or damage of the optical nerve. In this case, ophthalmologist tests the vision clarity and examines the exact cause.
  • Decreased vision, especially red color is an early indication of vision loss in the Graves’ disease. An effective way to test this problem is to cover one eye and see if any red object appears in different color from the other eye or not. If you are suffering from this problem, you should essentially contact with an oculoplastic surgeon or a neuro-ophthalmologist without making any delay.
  • Thirdly, problems associated with fields of vision could highlight a problem associated with optic nerve. In this situation, ophthalmologists look for problematic spots present in the vision field of a person by simply conducting a visual field test.

Causes of Graves’ Disease

Whenever the immune system attacks ocular tissues and muscles present in the eye socket, scaring and swelling caused because of inflammation results in various signs and symptoms indicating the problem of Thyroid Eye Disease. Furthermore, in severe cases, the cornea known as clear cover of the human eye may ulcerate or optic nerve may suffer damages. Either of these two problems leads to permanent vision loss in case patients do not undergo with appropriate treatment and that too within time.

Ulceration of eyes takes place because of the combination of eyes, as bulging forward and scarring. This results in backward retracting of eyelids. On the other side, damage of optical nerves occurs because of scarred, inflamed and thickened muscles impinging over the optical nerve at back portion of the eye socket.

In large numbers of patients suffering from Graves’ Ophthalmopathy, bulging forward of eyes or retraction of eyelids take place to some extent. Most of the patients suffering from mild or moderate type of Grapes’ ophthalmopathy experience spontaneous improvements in about 2 or 3 years and adapt to such abnormalities.

Severe ophthalmopathy affect about 10 percent of total patients and it takes place because of inflammation in the eye muscles, which results in swelling of eyes. These may even become scarred or stiff, which interfere with eyes movements and cause impinges or double vision over the optical nerve and thereby, vision loss. In some of the patients, eye protrusion creates difficulty for the eyelids to close properly resulting in vulnerability and exposure of the eye’s cornea. When compromise of optic nerves takes place, irreversible and progressive vision loss takes place. In rare cases, orbital swelling precipitates glaucoma affecting the optical nerve.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 16, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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