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How Your Thyroid Affects Your Eyes

Your thyroid gland, shaped like a butterfly and located in your neck near your collarbone, is one of your body’s endocrine glands, producing hormones that control many activities in your body. Your thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism, including how fast you burn calories and how rapidly your heart beats.

Problems with your thyroid gland can affect your weight, your mood, and more, including your eyes. The world-renowned oculoplastic surgeon Raymond Douglas, MD, PhD diagnoses and treats cases of thyroid eye disease from his offices in Beverly Hills and Long Beach, California. 

Here’s what Dr. Douglas wants you to understand about the connection between your thyroid gland and your eye health.

Thyroid problems and your eyes

If you have an overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, your eyes could suffer from negative effects. The tissues around your eyes, including the fat behind your eyeballs, your eye muscles, and neighboring facial tissues, can all be negatively affected by thyroid eye disease.

An overactive thyroid can lead you to develop thyroid eye disease, a condition sometimes but not always associated with Graves’ eye disease. Graves’ eye disease is an autoimmune condition that can cause protruding eyeballs, eye discomfort, and impaired vision.

Your antibodies mistakenly attack the receptors in your thyroid cells. These receptors can also be found on the surface of the cells behind your eyeballs. Under autoimmune attack, your tissues become inflamed and increase in size. As many as 50% of people with Graves’ disease will develop eye-related symptoms. Graves’ disease can also more rarely affect your skin.

For some patients, treatment for Graves’ disease can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition when your thyroid is under-active and doesn’t produce the amount of thyroid hormones your body needs. This condition is known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which can also cause eye discomfort and vision changes.

Treating your thyroid eye disease

While the active phase of thyroid eye disease only progresses for about 6-18 months, visible effects and vision-related issues remain, and you may need treatment to restore your appearance and eye health.

Dr. Douglas has extensive clinical experience at the cutting edge of treatment for thyroid eye disease. He directs the Orbital and Thyroid Eye Disease Program, and has pioneered the Tepezza® treatment, FDA approved in 2020. With Dr. Douglas’ help, you can take control of thyroid problems that affect your eyes.

Our team of experts works with you to develop your custom treatment plan, including both surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

To learn more about the connection between your thyroid health and your eyes, and to find out more about how Dr. Douglas can help you with symptoms like bulging eyes, blurred vision, and puffiness around the eyes, get in touch today.

Schedule your appointment with Dr. Douglas over the phone, or book with our convenient online tool now.