How can thyroid affect my eyes?

The most common way TED (Thyroid eye disease) affects the eyes is by causing symptoms of dry eye - watering, grittiness, and soreness. You may also find that bright lights are uncomfortable.

TED can also cause some changes to the appearance of your eyes, and in some cases, to your vision:

  • Your eyelids can become puffy and red (lid swelling), which is often more obvious in the morning
  • Your upper eyelid can rise to a higher position than normal, known as eyelid retraction. This can make more of the white of your eye visible, giving a "staring" appearance
  • The soft tissues behind your eyeball can swell, pushing your eyes forward so that they "bulge" (called "exophthalmos", or "proptosis")
  • Your orbits (eye sockets) may become painful, particularly when your eyes move
  • The muscles that move the eyeball can become swollen which can cause double vision (diplopia)
  • If the pressure inside your eye sockets increases, it can squash (compress) the optic nerve, which can cause blurring or dimming of your vision. Very few people with TED experience this, but it's important to get medical attention straight away if you notice these changes to your vision

Most people only get a mild form of TED. You may have dry eye which can be managed easily with lubricating eye drops. You may have some eyelid retraction or exophthalmos and any double vision you have may come and go and not cause too much difficulty.

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