Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

About Protruding Eyes?

Protruding Eyes is a condition which may be an indicator of a severe underlying medical ailment. This condition is medically termed as exophthalmos. While in some cases, this condition is congenital whereas in other cases Protruding Eyes as a result of an underlying medical condition.

Anatomically speaking, under normal circumstances, the white part of the eye should not be visible above the colored part of the eye without lifting the eyelid, but if the white part of the eye is visible between the iris and the upper eyelid then this is what is called as Protruding Eyes.

There may be various causes for the eyes to protrude and the treatment solely depends on the causative factor responsible for it. If there is sudden onset of your eyes protruding then it is considered to be a medical emergency and the individual should be taken to the nearest emergency room for treatment as a serious medical condition may be causing it.

What Causes Your Eyes to Protrude?

An overactive thyroid is believed to the most common cause for the eyes to protrude. The thyroid gland is located at the front portion of the throat and is responsible for releasing hormones which regulate the metabolism of the body. Hyperthyroidism is a condition when these hormones are released excessively causing an abnormality in the metabolism of the body and is responsible for it.

Additionally, a condition called as Graves Disease is yet another cause for the eyes to protrude. This condition results in the thyroid getting overactive resulting in metabolic abnormalities which in turn causes it.

What Causes Your Eyes to Protrude & Treatment for Protruding Eyes?

Some of the Other Causes for Eyes to Protrude Include:

  • Neuroblastoma, which is a type of a malignant condition affecting the sympathetic nervous system, is also a causative factor for eyes to protrude.
  • Leukemia or blood cancer is yet another cause for Protruding Eyes.
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer that affects the soft tissues of the body and also tends to cause this eye condition.
  • Orbital cellulitis affects the tissues around the eyes and can cause protruding eyes.
  • A trauma or injury to the eyes is also one of the causes.

Diagnosing the Cause of Protruding Eyes

As Protruding Eyes is usually an indicator of a potentially serious medical condition it is highly recommended to consult with a physician as soon as there is noticeable Protruding Eyes.

In order to diagnose the cause of it, the physician may ask several questions which may include a brief history of the patient, usage of any medications, prescriptive or over the counter, or usage of any supplementation.

The physician may also inquire about when the condition was first noticed, has there been worsening of the condition, or are there any other accompanying symptoms like changes in vision or headaches. Once the history taking is done then certain investigational studies may be performed which includes:

  • Testing the vision of the patient.
  • A dilated eye exam.
  • A slit-lamp examination to look at the structures of the eye.
  • Radiological studies in the form of an MRI or CT scans.
  • Blood tests may also be performed to identify the cause of Protruding Eyes.

What is the Treatment for Protruding Eyes?

The treatment for Protruding Eyes depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Depending on the cause the following could be the treatment choice:

  • Prescription may be given for eyedrops
  • Antibiotics may be given in cases of infection
  • Steroids may be given to calm down the inflammation

In some cases a surgery may have to be performed to treat the condition of protruding eye. In cases of tumors as a cause of bulging eye, surgery may be performed followed by radiation and chemotherapy to treat the tumor causing the eye to protrude.

For cases where an overactive thyroid is responsible for the eyes to protrude, then medications may be prescribed like beta blockers, radioactive iodine, or even surgery to bring the thyroid levels back to normal.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 27, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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