Treatment Options for Thyroid Eye Disease (Graves’ Orbitopathy)

Treatment may help reduce symptoms and the risk of complications.

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Thyroid eye disease, or Graves’ orbitopathy, can really take a toll on your quality of life. The symptoms can be uncomfortable and even painful. They might even threaten your vision. Of course, the changes to your appearance may also be hard to cope with and can affect your self-esteem. Luckily, there are treatment options for thyroid eye disease that can help with symptoms and possibly reduce the risk of complications.

The Treatment Approach for Thyroid Eye Disease

Doctors tend to take a four-part approach for treatment of Graves’ orbitopathy:

  • Lifestyle changes: The most important lifestyle change to reduce thyroid eye disease progression is quitting smoking.
  • Symptom relief: This may involve lubricating drops, gels, and ointments to relieve eye pain or grittiness. Adding prisms to glasses can help reduce double vision.
  • Medications: For example, IV or oral steroids, radiation, and immunotherapy can all help in cases of severe inflammation.
  • Surgery: Severe and sudden symptoms require emergency attention and may require eye surgery.

The right treatment for you may depend on your symptoms, as well as the severity of your disease. Working together with your medical team can help you find the right treatment approach for your thyroid eye disease.

Who Treats Graves’ Orbitopathy?

Because thyroid eye disease involves multiple systems of the body, there may be different experts involved in the medical care. Treatment for thyroid eye disease may include an:

  • Endocrinologist, who specializes in hormones
  • Ophthalmologist, who specializes in eye diseases and can perform eye surgery
  • Otolaryngologist, who specializes in problems with the ear, nose, and throat

Don’t wait to start treatment for thyroid eye disease if you think you’re having symptoms. Talk to an eye doctor or your primary care doctor if you don’t know where to start. They can refer you to the right specialists who can help you manage the disease, preserve your vision, and improve your quality of life.