I remember complaining about double vision in my teens and never finding a cause, so when I got it as an adult I didn’t think much of it and generally just considered it an irritation I had to accept. I actually didn’t realise how bad my vision had got until I was being diagnosed for hyperthyroidism and was told not to drive because I couldn’t pass any of the vision tests.
Once treatment for my thyroid started I found my vision was one of the first things that improved. I still have days when it’s a bit blurry and I’m still getting a lot of pain behind my eyes. I was told by doctors that I need a referral to an eye specialist, experienced in dealing with thyroid eye disease, to check my eyes and see if they need treatment independent of my thyroid treatment. I’m still waiting for that referral!!
Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a condition in which the eye muscles, eyelids, tear glands and fatty tissues behind the eye become inflamed. TED – also known as Graves’ Orbitopathy or Ophthalmopathy – is an autoimmune condition, and the same autoimmune condition that causes Graves’ disease. TED can occur in people with Graves’ disease when their thyroid is overactive, underactive or functioning normally. It can also occur long after treatment for Graves’ disease has been completed or before any Graves’ symptoms start.
About one in four people with Graves’ develop TED either before, during or after their thyroid symptoms. But the chances of developing it are increased substantially in smokers.
The most common symptoms of TED are below:
• Change in the appearance of the eyes (usually staring or bulging eyes)
• A feeling of grittiness in the eyes or excessive dryness in the eyes
• Watery eyes
• Intolerance of bright lights
•Swelling or feeling of fullness in upper or lower eyelids
• New bags under the eyes
• Redness of the lids and eyes
• Blurred or double vision
• Pain in or behind the eye, especially when looking up, down or sideways
• Difficulty moving the eyes
I have been suffering with a lot of the symptoms of TED for a long time but any time I have been to the doctor’s about them, admittedly very rarely, it was diagnosed as allergies or I was advised to go and have my vision tested. And now anytime my daughter’s complain about their eyes, I’m irrationally panicking it might be a Graves’ disease issue.
Anyhow part of the clinical trial I am participating in, involves a full MOT of my eyes with an ophthalmologist, experienced in dealing with TED. Which is a huge relief. So I’m currently on my way to Optegra Eye Hospital, Manchester. It will be the first time since being diagnosed in June that my eyes have been looked at thoroughly. It will be good to know if the intermittent TED symptoms I’m still getting are anything to worry about or if they will continue to improve as my thyroid function stabilises, or if I will need any treatment specifically for my eyes. Wish me luck!