New Light on Thyroid Eye Disease

Elmquist Eye Group provides insight on treating this vision-threatening condition

New Light on Thyroid Eye DiseaseThyroid eye disease is an autoimmune condition in which immune cells attack the thyroid gland causing dysfunction in the amount of thyroid hormone. The eyes are especially vulnerable to thyroid eye disease, in particular the eye muscles and connective tissue surrounding the eye. When the immune system attacks these tissues around the eyes, it results in inflammation and swelling that can lead to several eye conditions.

While thyroid eye disease can develop at any age, it most often impacts middle-age adults and those with a family history of thyroid eye disease. Women are five to six times more likely than men to get the disease. Cigarette smokers are at significantly increased risk to develop the disease, and when they do, they often have a more severe vision-threatening disease.

“A comprehensive eye exam allows an your eye doctor to determine the severity of your condition and recommend the best course of treatment,” said Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez, a comprehensive ophthalmologist for Elmquist Eye Group. “Our group of eye doctors regularly works with primary doctors and specialists to manage the effects of autoimmune conditions in relation to the eyes.”

Symptoms of thyroid eye disease often include red, watery eyes, sensitivity to light, puffiness around the eyes, irritation, dryness and bulging eyes. In more advanced cases, some people may also experience double vision, trouble moving and closing the eyes and blurred or loss of vision. These conditions, if left untreated, can lead to vision loss.

Early detection is key in controlling symptoms and slowing the progression of more severe conditions that may lead to loss of vision. Regular exams allow your eye care professional to examine your eyes and keep track of your symptoms. During an eye exam, your eye doctor will assess visual acuity, eye movements, and measure eye bulging, among other tests to determine the best treatment.

“Patients with mild symptoms can be managed conservatively with lubricating eye drops, whereas those with progressive, active disease may benefit from teprotumumab-trbw, a new therapeutic medicine approved by the FDA for the treatment of thyroid eye disease,” Rodriguez said.

To address more serious conditions, surgical procedures may be needed to correct problems related to the eye and eyelid muscles. Surgical measures may include repositioning the eyelid muscles to improve retraction, repositioning the eye muscles behind to reduce bulging, removing scar tissue from the eye socket and relieving pressure on the optic nerve.

Rodriguez concluded that thyroid eye disease goes beyond simply affecting patients’ vision. When eye care professionals examine patients with thyroid eye disease, they must assess not only the physical symptoms, but also the impact of the disease on overall quality of life. This gives a more complete picture of how thyroid eye disease is affecting patients on a daily basis and provides important considerations when making treatment decisions.

Taking a proactive approach to eye health is particularly important for those who are at risk or have recently been diagnosed with a thyroid-related disease. If you have concerns about your vision, contact Elmquist Eye Group at 239-936-2020 or stop by an Optical Boutique in Fort Myers or Cape Coral.

With more than 25 years of service to the Southwest Florida community, Elmquist Eye Group offers experienced doctors who are dedicated to patient care. Dr. E. Trevor Elmquist, Dr. Kate Wagner, Dr. Sarah Eccles-Brown, Dr. Nina Burt and Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez of Elmquist Eye Group are available to answer your questions. With three U.S. military veterans leading the practice, Elmquist Eye Group’s team stands ready to serve you right here in Southwest Florida. For more information, visit, call 239-936-2020 or stop by an Optical Boutique location in Fort Myers or Cape Coral.

Elmquist Eye Group
239-936-2020 |

7970 Summerlin Lakes Dr.

2336 Surfside Blvd., Suite 121


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