The thyroid is one of your endocrine glands located in your neck or just above your collarbone. It makes hormones and it helps set your metabolism. Most people are familiar of thyroid-related diseases due to insufficiency of certain vitamins and nutrients. These conditions become manifest usually through swelling in the neck. However, very few people know that thyroid may also be classified as an eye disease also known as Grave’s Orbitopathy.
Here are some things you need to know about this condition:
• Thyroid eye disease affects persons with overactive thyroid glands. When the muscles and other tissues in the orbits swell, the eye is pushed forward, making it appear more prominent.
• In serious cases, the swelling can stiffen the muscles that move the eyes. The swelling may also press on the nerve from the eye to the brain, disrupting your vision.
• This eye disease is closely associated with an overactive thyroid gland, which may be come manifest before or even after you have developed this eye condition. However, only an estimated 2% of people with overactive thyroids develop this eye condition.
• Over activity of the thyroid refers to the development of a disorder in the cells that are supposed to protect your body from infection. When this happens, the thyroid gland is treated a foreign matter that becomes prone to infection.
• Thyroid eye disease is found to be more common in smokers, men and older women. Studies show that the risk of developing this condition increases by as much as eight times in smokers.
• Its symptoms can include any of the following that will be felt in the eye: grittiness, watery, puffiness around the eyes or the upper eyelid, mild soreness, one eye is more affected than the other and extreme sensitivity to light.
• To prevent the development of thyroid eye disease, you should monitor your thyroid blood level regularly. You may need to give up smoking too.
• Here are some treatments that may be prescribed in order to treat your thyroid eye disease:
o You need to address your overactive thyroid. Treatments can include radioactive iodine therapy, thyroid hormone replacement and thyroidectomy. Some treatments may exacerbate the symptoms of your eye condition, thus, preventive measures should be taken to reduce the risk.
o Artificial tears may be used to relieve eye redness and irritation.
o A water tablet may be prescribed to reduce the puffiness around the eyes.
o When the eye is pushed forward, a severe appearance may be improved by surgery on the eyelids.
o To address double vision, you may use special glasses with prism lenses or in severe cases, you may need to undergo surgery.
o Immunosuppressive drugs like steroid tablets may be prescribed to address the autoimmune process that attacks the eye and causes inflammation around it. These can reduce the swelling and protect the eye’s vision from deteriorating due to thyroid eye disease. You may experience some side effects though such as thinning of the bones, reduction of the production of blood cells and weight gain.
o The tissues behind the eyeball may undergo 10 dosages of radiotherapy over a period of two weeks. This is often combined with immunosupression and steroids.
o Orbital decompression is the process of removing some of the bones surrounding the eye to make room in the orbit for the swollen eye muscles.