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What Does Grave’s Disease Do To Your Eyes?

What Does Grave’s Disease Do To Your Eyes?

Grave’s disease, the auto immune disease of Thyroid gland can cause exophthalmos. Exophthalmos is a condition, in which there is an inflammation in the eye muscles. The tissues and muscles get swollen and eye becomes protruded from their socket. Grave’s disease is also known as thyroid eye disease because it affects the eyes and tissues around the eyes. The muscles or the fat present around the eyes expands making the eyes protruded.

Anatomy of Grave’s Disease and Grave’s Ophthalmopathy

Grave’s disease is an auto immune deformity in which there is over production of thyroid hormone which causes lot of symptoms like increased appetite, weight loss, sweating, palpitations, increased heart rate, osteoporosis and many other body changes. Grave’s disease may result in Grave’s Ophthalmopathy, which affects the eyes and tissues around. In Grave’s disease the immune system affects the whole body, but in Grave’s Ophthalmopathy the eye muscles are affected. The areas around the eyes gets inflamed, eyes become red, the eyelids are retracted and the eyes are bulging out. When there is an extreme of Grave’s Ophthalmopathy, the inflamed eye muscles put a pressure on the optic nerve leading to its damage and ultimately blurred vision or vision loss.

Signs & Symptoms of Grave’s Ophthalmopathy

To test the presence of Grave’s Ophthalmopathy the patient need to undergo a thyroid function test with the help of an ophthalmologist. If any of the below symptoms appear, the person should consult a physician immediately. The symptoms may vary from patient to patient but some of the common symptoms include:

  • Inflammation in the eye
  • Reddish eyes
  • Bulging of eyes
  • Dryness in the eyes
  • Gritty sensation
  • Pain in the eye
  • Pressure in the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

Treatment of Grave’s ophthalmopathy

The treatment for ophthalmopathy lies in the treatment of Grave’s disease but in the initial phase of the treatment the symptoms of Grave’s ophthalmopathy may exaggerate, but later the situation is controlled with time. The treatment of Grave’s disease includes reduction of over activity of thyroid gland which includes:

Radio Iodine Treatment: Radioiodine is ingested to destroy the overactive cells of thyroid gland.

Systemic Medications: Proper systemic medication is used to reduce the activity of thyroid gland by reducing the production of hormone or block the effect of the hormone on the organs.

Surgical Treatment: The thyroid gland is completely removed surgically along with hormone substitute therapy.

Along with the treatment of over activity of thyroid hormone the symptoms of Grave’s disease and Grave’s ophthalmopathy are also treated by various means.

OTC Treatment: Artificial tears are used during the day and lubricating gel is used during the night.

Prescription Drugs: Corticosteroids are used for reducing the swelling around the eye balls.

Glasses: If the patient has double vision, glasses with prisms can be used.

Surgical Treatment: Surgical treatment is also available for the symptoms of Grave’s ophthalmopathy. In surgical processes, the swollen tissues are removed from around the orbital region. The weak eyes are realigned if there is a problem of double vision. The discomfort and problems associated with retracted eyelids are relieved with the help of surgery.


Grave’s disease may result in Grave’s Ophthalmopathy which affects the eyes and tissues around. In Grave’s disease the immune system affects the whole body but in Grave’s Ophthalmopathy the eye muscles are affected. The treatment for Grave’s ophthalmopathy is done usually in two phases. In the first phase the treatment of active eye disease is done. The active period lasts for about 2 to 3 years and requires cautious monitoring. In the second phase involves correcting improper changes which persists after the active phase.


  1. Cleveland Clinic – Graves’ Eye Disease (Graves’ Ophthalmopathy): https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15065-graves-eye-disease-graves-ophthalmopathy

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 28, 2023

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