Can an eye doctor help with Grave's disease symptoms?

David R. Demartini, MD
Graves disease is the abnormal swelling of the extraocular muscle of the eyes in patients that have thyroid disease. These same swollen muscles are the cause for poor eye or eyelid movement, red coloration, dryness and blurred vision, increase in the intraocular pressure and most notably the prominent "bug eye" appearance (proptosis). 
Treatment for Graves disease can be difficult. Initially, artificial tears or ointment can be satisfactory. Glaucoma drops can help lower intraocular pressure. Examination and coordination between the ophthalmologist and endocrinologist is crucial to treat the underlying thyroid disease. Some believe that correcting the thyroid problem will improve or stablilize the eye disease. This has not been consistent however. Many times the eyes worsen eventhough the thyroid is well controlled. Oral antiinflammatory steroids, localized radiation and/or surgery have been used in more advanced casees of Graves disease. 
There are a number of treatments that can be done by an ophthalmologist for Grave's disease and the changes that can occur around the eyes. They may include steroids or radiation treatment to help decrease inflammation, or even surgery.

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