Thyroid Eye Disease -- A Summary for Patients | oneGRAVESvoice

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Patient Education

Thyroid Eye Disease — A Summary for Patients

key information

source: The University of Iowa

authors: Chase A Liaboe, Thomas J Clark, Erin M Shriver


Thyroid eye disease (TED) is an inflammatory disease of the eye and the surrounding tissues. The inflammation is due to an autoimmune reaction – the body’s immune system is attacking tissues within and around the eye socket. TED is sometimes referred to by other names, such as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, Graves’ orbitopathy, thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy, and/or thyroid orbitopathy.

About 90% of TED patients also have Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes excess thyroid hormone production (hyperthyroidism). However, 10% of patients with TED have either a normal-functioning or under-functioning thyroid (e.g. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). While control of systemic thyroid hormone levels is crucial in patients with TED, the ocular disease course and severity does not always correlate with thyroid hormone levels.

Most patients with TED have signs and/or symptoms in both eyes, however the severity can differ between the eyes. Some of the most common manifestations of TED are:

• Swelling in and around the eye socket
• Retraction (tightening) of the eyelids
• Strabismus (the eyes are not in alignment with each other) and diplopia (double vision)
• Dry, irritated, red eyes



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