Thyroid Eye Disease

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Synonyms: Blurred vision | Dry or watery eyes | Bulging eyes | Gritty feeling in the eyes | Pain in/or behind the eyes | Redness and swelling of the eyelids | Difficulty moving the eyes

Thyroid eye disease is a rare disease characterized by progressive inflammation and damage to tissues around the eyes, including the muscle, connective, and fatty tissue. It is considered an autoimmune disorder similar to Graves Disease, where the immune system starts to attack the tissue around the eyes. Although the exact cause is still being researched, it is thought to be the result of an overactive thyroid, as is seen in Graves Disease. The disease is characterized by an active phase in which progressive inflammation occurs. Symptoms during this phase include pain, gritty eyes, swelling of the eyelids, watery eyes, bulging eyes and double vision, lasting anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. This is followed by an inactive phase in which the disease does not get worse but symptoms such as double vision and bulging eyes can remain. In rare, severe instances, vision loss can occur. Early detection and treatment can prevent serious damage to the eye.

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