Graves’ Ophthalmopathy is a thyroid-related disorder that causes inflammation of the eye muscles, which enlarge within the eye socket. As a result, the eyes bulge and/or stare; the eyelids retract and often cannot close; and the eye’s surface dries and becomes uncomfortable. The swollen muscles can exert pressure on the optic nerve and threaten vision loss, the most serious consequence of Graves’ disease.
The mainstay of treatment includes addressing the underlying hormonal condition itself. In addition, a variety of treatments and procedures are available to decrease the ocular symptoms. When medical therapies fail to reduce muscle swelling, an orbital decompression may be performed to create more space around the eyes and to decrease the amount of bulging in patients who have vision threatening disease. Pressure on the optic nerve is relieved by removing part of the bony wall and floor of the eye’s socket, creating additional space for swollen muscles. Additionally, eyelid position may be improved surgically to help reduce dryness symptoms and improve appearance. This involves lowering the upper eyelids and raising the lower eyelids (by adding tissue taken from the roof of the mouth — a hard palate graft), and placing them at a cosmetically appropriate level.
Contact Dr. Hui at 760.610.2677 to learn more about eyelid evaluation and treatment.