The Rare Graves’ Eye Disease: Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Did you or your loved one recently get diagnosed with thyroid eye disease (TED)? In that case, you would want to know more about this rare disorder. Also known as Graves’ eye disease, TED is an autoimmune disorder affecting 19 out of 100,000 people every year. This disorder causes the eye tissues and muscles to swell, inflame, and damage themselves.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people older than 43 years are more likely to develop Graves’ eye disease. Other reports suggest that TED affects women more than men. Moreover, you can get this disease if you have a family member diagnosed with TED or low selenium levels in your body. The selenium mineral is essential for protecting your cells from infection and damage.

In this blog, we will discuss the symptoms, treatment options, and more for Graves’ eye disease.

Symptoms of Graves’ Eye Disease: What to Look Out For?

TED is a non-transferable disease that affects half a million Americans. It gets triggered by the activation of the orbital fibroblasts to fight against thyroid receptors. As a result, it causes the following symptoms by swelling your eye muscles and tissues:

  • Dry and itchy eyes
  • Redness, irritation, and pain
  • Bags or puffiness under the eyes
  • Bulging of the eyes and change in appearance
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Difficulty in moving the eye in the socket
  • Watery eyes and a low tolerance for bright lights

Furthermore, progressive swelling can lead to vision loss due to pressure on the optic nerve, leading to painful migraines. Hence, you can have irritability, mood swings, and anxiety. If the symptoms persist, you must visit a medical professional.

Can You Get Graves’ Eye Disease?

Researchers have spent endless hours trying to find the exact cause of Graves’ disease. However, it remains a mystery to medical professionals. Technically, people with abnormal thyroid levels or a family history of TED develop this disease.

If TED is in your genes, you have a higher risk of developing it in the future. However, this complex inflammatory disease is non-contagious and non-chronic.

Other research shows that heavy smokers have a higher risk of developing this disease. Some speculate that TED occurs when anti-thyrotropin receptor antibodies accumulate in your eyes. It happens when your immune system attacks your thyroid, inflaming the tissues and muscles. As a result, you develop TED symptoms.

Diagnosis and Management

You should see a medical professional if you witness any TED symptoms or have a history of thyroid disease. They will diagnose TED by physically examining your eyelids and eyes. You will undergo thyroid tests, ultrasounds, computed topographies (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

These tests will help determine whether or not you have TED. Ideally, the healthcare provider will perform blood tests depending on your antibody and thyroid hormone levels if there is a positive diagnosis. Consequently, they will start treatments after examining the results.

Technically, there is no cure for Graves’ eye disease. However, you can manage TED by maintaining a healthy diet. Doctors suggest avoiding gluten, as it can exacerbate the symptoms and harm your immune system.

Similarly, excessive iodine intake can trigger hyperthyroidism, leading to Graves’ eye disease in older adults. In most cases, a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of developing TED symptoms.

Healthline suggests eating foods rich in vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium. Therefore, add mushrooms, broccoli, almonds, salmon, dark chocolate, avocados, and sunflower seeds to your diet.

How to Treat TED?

Researchers have developed various ways to treat this rare autoimmune disorder. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, ointments, selenium supplements, and artificial tears can treat mild TED. For severe TED symptoms, you might need intravenous injections, anti-inflammatory drugs, or systemic steroids.

For instance, teprotumumab-trbw injections like Tepezza help relieve patients’ TED symptoms. This U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved intravenous medication is worth USD 14,000 to USD 16,000 per vial. For those who could afford it, this medication decreased inflammation, prevented tissue expansion, and reduced fat remodeling.

Initially, Tepezza was effective as it blocked autoantibodies from activating inflammation and tissue expansion receptors like orbital fibroblasts. However, TED patients who used Tepezza developed side effects like tinnitus, hearing loss, and other medical conditions.

Approximately 65% of patients developed hearing problems after getting one Tepezza injection. Some speculate that Horizon Therapeutics, the leading manufacturer of Tepezza, knew about this severe side effect. According to TruLaw, they, however, did not warn doctors and patients about it.

Therefore, the victims were furious with the manufacturers. They wanted justice for wrongful advertisements that led to debilitating health complications. Soon, the victims filed product liability and mass tort lawsuits against Horizon Therapeutics.

This Tepezza lawsuit outcome can result in settlement compensation ranging between USD 140,000 and USD 350,000. Anyone who received one Tepezza injection and developed tinnitus or hearing loss is eligible for this lawsuit. In short, ensure you or your loved one does not take Tepezza injections to treat Graves’ eye disease.

Underrated Treatment Options

Other than medications, supplements, and eye drops, you can treat Graves’ eye disease with surgery. The University of Pennsylvania states eyelid decompression or eye muscle surgeries can rehabilitate your TED-affected eyes. Moreover, you can control TED’s severity by quitting smoking and maintaining thyroid levels.

Similarly, corticosteroids like prednisone can help weaken your immune reaction and alleviate the TED symptoms. Patients with hyperthyroidism have a higher chance of developing this disease. Therefore, you should get regular checkups if TED runs in your family.

Treatments like radioactive iodine therapy and thyroidectomy can help deal with this. Other than these, holistic options include a cold compress, wearing sunglasses, and keeping your head elevated during sleep. Of course, a healthy diet and breathing exercises can also help. You should get psychological support because Graves’ eye disease can change how your face looks and feels.

The Bottom Line

Usually, doctors treat TED with eye drops, supplements, and prescription medication. Moreover, only 5% of cases will require steroid treatment. Every two in ten people with Graves’ eye disease will need surgery.

That means you can treat and manage TED with non-invasive options. However, these treatments can only be successful if you get diagnosed in time. Otherwise, you might require surgery or steroid treatment. If left undiagnosed, TED can lead to permanent vision loss.

Therefore, if you have a family history of TED or thyroid disease, remember to go for regular checkups as you grow older. Similarly, look out for TED symptoms and maintain a healthy diet. If the symptoms persist, remember to consult a doctor, seek support groups, and find psychological help.

Raaj Kumar
Raaj Kumar

My name is Raaj Kumar, Admin of I am a part-time blogger and SEO expert with a passion for doing something different. I am from India. I am self-employed and always eager to learn something new, which helps me to gain knowledge about many new things.

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