Graves’ disease symptoms that are not related to the eye include

  • Anxiety;
  • Irritability;
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Fatigue;
  • A rapid or irregular heartbeat;
  • A tremor of hands or fingers;
  • An increase in perspiration or warm, moist skin;
  • Sensitivity to heat; and
  • Weight loss, despite normal eating habits.

Thyroid disease and the eye

Graves’ disease can affect the eyes in multiple ways.

  • Eyelid retraction. The combination of eyelid swelling and eye protrusion sometimes causes the eyelids to retract and reveal the sclera (the white part) of the eye.
  • Eye protrusion. This occurs when the muscles around the eyes swell, which pushes the eye forward. People with this condition look as if their eyes are bulging or they are staring.
  • Dry eye. Because of protrusion and eyelid retraction, the eyes are more exposed to the environment. This causes blurred vision, light sensitivity, dry eye, excessive tearing, irritation and inflammation.
  • Double vision. Muscle swelling may cause double vision.
  • Eye bags. Eyelid swelling can cause tissue around the eyes to bulge forward.

Image reproduced, with permission, from Raab EL, Basic and Clinical Science Course, Section 6, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011-2012.

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