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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Thyroid eye disease

Matenga repe tenga ki te karu

Thyroid eye disease is a condition where the muscles and soft tissues around and behind your eyes become swollen.

This usually happens when you have an over-active thyroid gland that makes too much thyroid hormone. This is called hyperthyroidism.

Occasionally, thyroid eye disease can happen in people who do not have hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of thyroid eye disease

All symptoms happen because of swollen tissue around your eye and within your eye socket.

Most people have a mild form of the disease, which causes irritation, redness or dryness at the front of their eyes.

A few people get worse problems, including bulging and "staring" eyes and double vision (if their eye muscles are affected).

In advanced cases, which are extremely rare, vision may be affected with:

Treating thyroid eye disease

You'll need to have treatment for your overactive thyroid to get your hormones back to normal levels.

If you smoke, stop immediately. Smoking makes thyroid eye disease worse.

Other treatments will depend on how bad your eye disease is and can include:

Rarely, some people need surgery to:

Long-term outcomes

Thyroid eye disease eventually settles down, but it can take two to three years to completely get better.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2023.


See also:

Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Page reference: 263797

Review key: HITYE-263797