What is TED? It stands for Thyroid Eye Disease, also known as Graves’ Eye Disease. It usually happens more frequently to people who have Graves’ disease antibodies, but it can also attack people with Hashitoxicosis, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease. So what is it? It’s defined as an auto-immune disease of the eye socket and muscles surrounding the eye. Simple definition right? Unfortunately for the people who suffer from it, it can go from annoying to excruciating in effects.
In the early stages, it can be an irritation. Starting out feeling like there is something in the eye making it irritated and red. The tear ducts may cause the eyes to be either “wet” or “dry”, either too much tears lubricating the eye or too little, and this can happen near the same time to the same person. The immune system may make the eyelids swell up and start to look like there are really bad bags under the eyes, or major puffiness.Extra spots in the eye or minor vision problems may come and go.
Next it starts to make the eyes look like they are going to pop out, like they are bulging out a little or a lot. Double vision and major blurriness shows up to make seeing difficult. Pressure starts to build making the eyes ache. The upper eyelid can retract, making the eyes look even more bulging out and make the person look startled. People also often become extremely light sensitive.
When it’s at it’s worse, it will push the eye forward due to swelling in the eye muscles. It can make the sufferer unable to properly close their eyes, which makes lubrication of the eye a problem and can have a side effect of producing a corneal ulcer. If a person has severe redness, pain in the eye, diminished ability to see, color vision becoming abnormal, get to an eye doctor who is familiar with Graves’ Eye disease or TED, this needs to be treated asap so it doesn’t cause permanent vision loss. The muscles can also start to scar leading to other issues with vision and how the eyes look to everyone else. This is when surgery to correct this may be brought up.
The inflammation period of TED can last up to 3 years. During this time most eye doctors and eye surgeons will not perform surgery as more inflammation could bring a patient right back to where they were before the surgery, to correct the eyes. Lubricants, eye lid taping at night, steroids and other medical methods are use to alleviate the worst of the issues. There has also been some evidence showing that taking Selenium 200mcg a day can halt or slow down the inflammation and damage of TED to the eyes.
If you have thyroid disease and you suspect that you may have signs of Thyroid Eye Disease (TED), consult an eye doctor or ocular surgeon, who knows how to deal with signs of thyroid eye disease. Even if you do not have signs of this, it is a good idea to get your eyes checked once a year and measured to make sure that your eyes have not changed from year to year.