Thyroid Eye Disease is an inflammatory condition which affects the orbital contents including the extraocular muscles and orbital fat. It is almost always associated with Graves’ disease (GD) but may rarely be seen in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, primary hypothyroidism, or thyroid cancer. The ocular manifestations of Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) include soft tissue inflammation, eyelid retraction, proptosis, corneal exposure, and optic nerve compression. Thyroid eye disease is a result of the elevated thyroid antibodies, not the thyroid hormone itself. But not all people suffering from Graves’ disease, for example, will experience and develop this symptom.
The signs and symptoms of the thyroid eye disease are characteristic. These include lid retraction, lid lag, and a delay in the downward excursion of the upper eyelid in down gaze that is specific to TED.
Thyroid Eye Disease affects approximately 1 million people in USA and Canada and 250,000 people in the UK. Although blindness is very rare complication, fortunately only a small minority of patients require surgery or other medical treatment to protect their vision. The majority of patients with Thyroid Eye Disease, however, appear to suffer silently trying to come to terms with the facial disfigurement, caused by the disease. It is particularly unkind, distorting the most expressive, vivid and ageless feature of the face, the eyes. Many patients with Thyroid eye disease are unable to face the world, they don’t want to look at the mirror any more and avoid social contacts as much as they can. Relationships break down, jobs are lost, depression sets in and life changes for the worse. These patients are really desperate, they lost the hope that they will ever get better and the consequences for their everyday life are severe.
But I know for sure that the situation is not hopeless and many people may see improvement in a very short time, depending on how severe is their thyroid eye disease. I, personally, also suffered from Thyroid eye disease (my left eye was severely protruded), but once my thyroid antibodies decreased to normal levels, my eyes started to improve quickly. This is, in fact, the last symptom to disappear, after you’ve been declared “euthyroid” by your doctors. (It took me a few months after my thyroid levels became normal to see the actual improvement of my eyes.)
Indeed, significant advances in the medical and surgical treatment of Thyroid Eye Disease has been achieved over the last few years. However, the psychological and social aspects of the disease are still largely neglected. Recent studies show that patients with moderate to severe Graves’ Disease ophthalmopathy (TED) have significant mood disturbance, especially when disfiguring signs are predominant, which is no surprise.
But there are at least 13 methods that I personally know for Thyroid eye disease (TED) improvement. The following general recommendations can help Thyroid Eye Disease and its symptoms (bulging eyes, double vision, and protruded eyes etc. )
- Cold chamomile compress for your eyes (use regular, refrigerated tea bags)
- Elevate head to relieve swelling.
- Flax seed oil/ Organic Flax seeds. Take as prescribed on the bottle, but generally 2 x 1000 capsules daily are enough.
- Lubrication eye drops (avoid the one that are treating red eyes)
- Lubrication ointments that help eye dryness.
- Supplements like Selenium, Turmeric (because of its anti-inflammatory activity), L- carnitine and Serrapeptase (as directed).
- Exercises to strengthen the eye muscles (included in my book “Thyroid Eye Disease and Its Healing”)
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin – available in most health food stores. Take as directed.
- Humidifiers in your room.
- Acupressure, believe it or not, can help.
- Reflexology- applying pressure to special points on your feet.
- Wearing quality sunglasses that are really protecting your eyes (not the ones that you buy for $5, because they are not really protecting your eyes from anything).
- Corrective surgery to loosen the eyelids
- Decompression surgery
- Steroids and prisms (to correct double vision)
The last 3 are used only in severe cases where nothing else can help, but chose your eye doctor carefully, because it’s a complicated surgery.
The email below is from one of my clients who avoided eye surgery and saw improvement in just 2 weeks:
I just wanted to let you know that I have been taking the flax seed oil and using my eye drops for about 2 1/2 weeks now and I can already tell a difference (not necessarily appearance wise yet), but I do not have all of the pain in my eyes that I was having and I can tell by touch that my eyes are not protruding as much.
I am going to the eye doctor next week. I am anxious to see how much my measurements have improved, because I know they have. I just wanted to say thanks for your information, because I was not looking forward to that horrible sounding eye surgery.
Thanks, Stacy P.”
So, don’t lose hope, be patient, your eyes can always get better!