Trusted Resources: Evidence & Education
Scientific literature and patient education texts
You and Your Hormones: Thyroid Eye Disease
source: You & Your Hormones/Society for Endocrinology
Thyroid eye disease is an autoimmune condition affecting the eyes that is associated with Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune thyroid condition.
What Causes Thyroid Eye Disease?
The exact cause of thyroid eye disease is not known but it is thought to be caused by an abnormal immune response that is targeted at the healthy tissues of the eye. This leads to the eyes becoming sore, watery, swollen and red. This inflammation is directed against several different parts of the eyes, including the muscle and fat behind the eyes. This results in the eyes becoming prominent or giving an appearance of a permanent stare. Similar inflammation of the muscles that move the eye can result in the muscles becoming stiff. As a result, the eyes do not move together, causing double vision. In severe cases of stiffness, squinting may result.
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