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What is Graves’ Eye Disease?

In this week’s episode of Thyroid Thursday, Dr. Raymond Douglas defines and discusses Graves’ Eye Disease. 

What is Graves’ Eye Disease? Is it the same as Thyroid Eye Disease? 

Graves’ disease was named after a person, and it is a systemic autoimmune disease where the cells from your bone marrow attack the thyroid and can attack the eyes and can also attack the tissue around the skin. 

Dr. Douglas specifically talks about the eye component. When the disease and the immune cells attack the tissue around the eyes, namely the muscles that move the eyes around and the fat that provide cushion for the eyes, it is called Graves’ eye disease. A term that is more frequently used is thyroid eye disease, or even thyroid associated ophthalmopathy. The terms don’t matter as much as the disease process.

What exactly is Graves Eye Disease? 

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune attack and it is diagnosed via antibody production, such as a TSI or thyroid stimulating antibodies. These antibodies attack the receptor, which is located on the thyroid tissue. Thyroid eye disease or Graves’ eye disease is also an immune attack but to a slightly different receptor or a combination of these two receptors which are found more on the eye tissue than found on the thyroid. Some people get the thyroid component, some people get the eye component and many people get both, which are the differential reasons. The immune system attacks the receptor on the eye tissue and because of that it is called thyroid eye disease. 

Dr. Douglas says that in the next few years he thinks we’re going to have very targeted treatment for both Graves’ disease and thyroid eye disease, which will largely deal with the attack on these receptors and how we can block these receptors from the immune attack. This is something Dr. Douglas will discuss in a future episode, so stay tuned!

Contact Dr. Douglas Today! 

If you or someone you know is suffering from thyroid eye disease, contact our office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Douglas – (310) 657-4302. If you do not live in Los Angeles, ask us about our Out-of-Town Patient programs.