People with thyroid disease sometimes experience problems with their eyes. Such eye changes fall under the category of Thyroid Related Orbitopathy (TRO). Usually TRO is seen in about one out of 20 hyperthyroid patients, although it sometimes occurs in hypothyroid patients and even people without thyroid abnormalities.
Eye problems connected to thyroid disease can be experienced as redness and swelling, double vision, decreased vision, eyelid retraction and a protrusion of the eye itself. Sometimes only one of these signs occurs and others do not. Then, too, thyroid-related eye problems can occur and often change in both kind and severity for periods of six months to two years. If the condition stabilizes, the eyes would usually remain either in a normal condition or in the changed condition.
The oculoplastic surgeon trained in TRO can help patients understand and deal with the irritation, tearing and swelling associated with TRO. When the eyes reach a stable condition, the surgeon can determine whether any corrective surgery would be helpful. The oculoplastic surgeon can also watch for and treat the rare but more serious TRO problems that can arise.
One effect of TRO is to give eyes the appearance of advanced age, often the result of eyelid swelling or accumulated fluids causing bags under the eyes. Although this is mostly a cosmetic concern, it may be correctable. The oculoplastic surgeon can offer surgical treatments for these conditions to improve the eyes’ appearance.