When you stop to think about what controls many of your body’s functions, your first response might be the brain. But what many people do not realize is that the thyroid also plays an important part in how your body functions. If your thyroid does not function properly, it can impact your overall health, including your eye health. One health condition it can cause is Graves’ disease, which can cause thyroid eye disease.

What is Graves’ Disease?

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that can cause your thyroid to produce too much of its hormones (hyperthyroidism). Its signs and symptoms can be wide-ranging. It is most common among women and those who are under the age of 40.

Almost 30% of those affected by Graves’ disease show signs of thyroid eye disease, also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy. One well-known person who experienced this was former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Eye Disease

Graves’ ophthalmopathy causes inflammation and other disturbances in the immune system that affect the tissues and muscles around the eyes. The most recognized symptom is bulging eyes.

Additional signs and symptoms of this thyroid eye disease:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Pain or pressure in the eyes
  • Reddened or inflamed eyes
  • Retracted or puffy eyelids
  • Vision loss

Awareness is Key to Preserving Your Vision

The key to preventing vision loss from thyroid eye disease is to know your risks. If you know you have Graves’ disease or other thyroid disorders, you are at an increased risk. Make sure to let your eye doctor know if you have been diagnosed with Graves’ disease or have other thyroid disorders.

As with all eye conditions, the earlier thyroid eye disease is detected and treated, the better the outcome. Because of this, you must keep up with your eye exams as recommended by your eye doctor. You should also immediately call your doctor if any new symptoms or changes to your vision develop. Call Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 to schedule an appointment with one of our eye doctors.