Graves' disease is an immune system disorder that can affect various parts of the body, including the eyes. The disease can lead to bulging eyes, pain and pressure in the eyes, and double vision. In some instances, vision loss can occur. To protect your vision, your ophthalmologist can recommend non-surgical and surgical treatments.
Bulging eyes is usually the result of swelling behind the eyeballs that is caused by the disease. To reduce the swelling, your ophthalmologist could prescribe corticosteroids. The prescription drugs are effective, but can lead to side effects, such as elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels. You could also experience weight gain.
Another possible symptom of Graves' disease is dry eyes. Dry eyes can lead to irritation, eye infections, and damage to the surface of your eyes. To treat the condition, antibiotics and prescription strength eye drops could be recommended. If the symptom persists, light therapy or eyelid massage could be an option. Both are designed to stimulate tears and help reduce dryness.
Prisms are sometimes placed in eyeglasses to correct the double vision caused by Graves' disease. The prisms are only effective for some people who experience double vision. If your vision is not corrected with the help of the prisms, there are surgical options available that could be effective.
Depending on the impact of the Graves' disease on your eyes, surgery might be necessary. For instance, orbital decompression surgery is an option to alleviate bulging eyes and visual problems that have occurred because of the symptom. During the procedure, the doctor would remove the orbital bone that is between your eye socket and sinuses. The removal of the bone would leave space for your eyes to be moved back so that they no longer bulge.
If you are experiencing double vision, eye muscle surgery can sometimes help. Graves' disease can cause scarring on the eyes as they are pushed out of their original position. The scars tend to form around the fibers of the muscles in your eyes. As a result, visual problems can occur. To resolve the issue, your doctor can reposition the muscle. Your doctor might have to perform the surgery more than once.
Your ophthalmologist could recommend other treatments based on the symptoms you are experiencing. It is important to keep your doctor informed of your symptoms so that he or she can create a treatment plan that is effective.