Dry, red, bulgy and more 'starey' eyes are amongst the signs of thyroid eye disease.
Abnormal activity of the thyroid gland in the neck (be it over- or under-action), may lead to inflammation in the delicate tissues within the orbit (the eye socket). The inflammatory period in TED can last up to two years, and may occur:
- Any time after a diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction, or
- Before any thyroid changes are diagnosed, and, rarely:
- Without there ever being evidence of abnormal thyroid function
TED has an active, or ‘wet’, phase and an inactive, or ‘dry’ phase, when the signs and symptoms stabilise and even improve slightly.
Patients with TED experience a change in the appearance of their eyes and periorbital area. The eyes protrude (exophthalmos) and vision may be affected by optic nerve compression, particularly in the acute phase; the ocular surface may become exposed, dry and painful. The patient may have double vision (diplopia) and abnormally retracted eyelids. The oculoplastic surgeon is one of the main people involved in the rehabillitation of patients with thyroid eye disease, working closely with their endocrinologist.