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What are Bulging Eyes a Symptom Of?

Whether you call it Exophthalmos, Proptosis, protruding eyeball, or bulging eyeball, this is a situation when either one or both the eyes protrude from the socket of the eyes. This condition generally arises due to swelling of the eye muscles, tissue or fat that is behind the eyes. During this situation, the cornea is highly exposed on the outer side of the eyes, that is to the air, and it becomes difficult to keep the eyes lubricate and moist. In some serious cases, the bulging eyes can give a good amount of pressure on the nerve of the optic which can result in loss of vision.

Bulging eyes are quite often mistaken with prominent eyes, which is hereditary and without any harm. However, the bulging eyes can be serious at times.

What are Bulging Eyes a Symptom Of?

What are Bulging Eyes a Symptom Of?

Bulging eye is a condition that is linked with some diseases like hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, leukemia, etc. Bulging eyes is generally associated with Graves’ disease in which the thyroid gland comes into contact with harmful cells and also releases antibodies that are harmful to the muscles of the eyes leading to inflammation.

Here are some of the common causes of Bulging eyes:

Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is a situation that is related to the thyroid gland at the front part of the neck. The gland is helpful for regulating the metabolism by releasing the hormones for controlling the use of energy by the cells. In hyperthyroidism, when either T3, T4, or even both the elements cause metabolic rate to a great extent, the situation gets worsened. Some other symptoms of hyperthyroidism other than bulging eyes are weight loss, bowel movements with high frequency, irregular periods, etc.

Graves’ Disease: Grave’s disease is a disorder that attacks the immune system through the thyroid gland. The immune system in this condition generates antibodies that are popular by the name immunoglobulins, which are thyroid stimulating. The antibodies generated in this way then damage the thyroid cells that are healthy, which leads to the bulk creation of thyroid hormone. This further damages the function of the nervous system, the temperature of the body, development of the brain, and other elements. Some symptoms of this disease include depression, emotional lability, weight loss, bulging eyes, fatigue, etc.

Neuroblastoma: It is a mild form of cancer, formed in the sympathetic nervous system, immature cells and/or the neurons. This solid tumor is mostly found in body parts like pelvis, adrenal gland, neck, abdomen, chest, etc. In serious cases, cancer can also spread to lymph nodes, skin, and bones. No doubt, this is rare cancer, still, it is mostly found among the infants. Some of the symptoms along with bulging eyes for neuroblastoma include dark circles, lump in chest, neck, etc., swelling on abdominal, weakness in upper and lower extremities, paralysis, swelling under the skin, etc.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a disease that is related to the eyes. When the optic nerve of the eyes is damaged, it means you are suffering from glaucoma. The optic nerve is a nerve that passes visual information to the brain from the eyes. Glaucoma is basically a defect, which occurs when there is tremendous pressure beneath the eyes which is an abnormal condition. On serious notes, the disease may lead to loss of vision and even blindness. The symptoms of Glaucoma include bulging eyes, nausea, pain in eyes, redness in eyes, disturbance in the vision, blurred vision, vomiting, etc.

Apart from all these, other reasons resulting in bulging eyes include leukemia, periorbital cellulitis, hemangioma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma, and many more. The disease can be detected with the help of some physical examinations like a dilated eye exam, vision test, imaging tests, MRI scans, blood tests, slit-lamp exam, etc. On earlier stages, bulging eyes can be cured with the help of some eye drops, eye surgery, antibiotics, chemotherapy, etc. depending on the medical condition and the diagnosis of the eyes.


  1. American Thyroid Association. (n.d.). Graves’ Disease. https://www.thyroid.org/graves-disease/
  2. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Neuroblastoma Treatment (PDQ) – Health Professional Version. https://www.cancer.gov/types/neuroblastoma/hp/neuroblastoma-treatment-pdq
  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2020). Glaucoma. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 23, 2023

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