Thyroid Eye Disease

What is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Thyroid eye disease (TED), sometimes called dysthyroid orbitopathy and associated with Graves’ disease, occurs when the antibodies produced by the immune system mistakenly attack the muscles and tissue behind the eye. The resulting inflammation can cause the eyes to bulge forward, a condition known as proptosis. It can also make the eyelids open wider and cause dry eyes, watery eyes, double vision, decreased vision, and eye irritation. In rare cases, the autoimmune condition can cause vision loss. With the correct treatment, TED can be well managed, and patients can live normal lives.

What you can expect at the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic

The Cizik Eye Clinic opened in 2007 and is housed in Memorial Hermann Plaza at 6400 Fannin Street. It includes dozens of exam areas, multiple operating rooms, and laser suites equipped with the most sophisticated equipment available for patient care.

People travel from across the country and the world for treatment at the Cizik Eye Clinic, in part because our affiliation with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth provides unmatched resources and expertise. Our friendly staff works diligently to make your visit pleasant and efficient, as we maximize patient flow through everything from routine eye exams to the most advanced eye surgeries.

Our physicians are faculty members at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and are board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology or are board eligible. At the Cizik Eye Clinic, we understand that the eye is a small part of a whole patient who deserves top-notch, comprehensive care in a cutting-edge facility.

Causes of Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid eye disease is sometimes the first symptom of an overactive thyroid. Many patients will present abnormal thyroid hormone levels in blood tests. The autoimmune condition is often experienced in conjunction with Graves’ disease, but thyroid eye disease is also seen in patients with no evidence of thyroid dysfunction.

Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

Symptoms can vary greatly from case to case. Patients may experience wet eyes, dry eyes, or both. Eyes might be red, irritated, swollen and bulging. Eyelids might appear puffy or baggy and might not close at night. Patients might have double vision, eye pain and deteriorating vision over time. The inflammation that leads to the symptoms can last one to three years.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid eye disease is rare, and it is important to visit one of our neuro-ophthalmologists who can diagnose and treat it as quickly as possible. The symptoms may occur at the same time as thyroid disease, may precede it, or may come after thyroid disease is diagnosed. Blood tests will be used to check thyroid levels. A thorough eye exam will be conducted to determine the severity of your thyroid eye disease. In some cases, a CT scan or MRI may be conducted on the eye muscles.

Treatment of Thyroid Eye Disease

After the evaluation, your doctors will develop a targeted medical or surgical plan to address your thyroid eye disease. Certain supplements, such as selenium, might be recommended, and eye drops might be prescribed. An aggressive topical regimen that includes lubricant and low-dose topical steroids may greatly improve the quality of life for patients.

In cases when surgery is needed, the ophthalmologist may reposition the eyelids or realign the eye muscles. When eyesight is threatened, the surgeon may perform an orbital decompression, a procedure that removes bone to allow space for the swollen tissue. Your surgeon will give you specific information related to your particular condition, as well as a detailed description of the surgery and instructions on how to make the best recovery.

Contact Us

At Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, we offer patients access to highly specialized eye and vision care. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-9400, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.