Thyroid eye disease

Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Thyroid Eye Disease is also known as:

  • TED
  • Thyroid Ophthalmopathy
  • Dysthyroid Eye Disease
  • Graves' Ophthalmopathy
  • Ophthalmic Graves' Disease

(These synonyms are mentioned here for information but are not necessarily included as separate entries in this glossary. Where multiple entries are included the text links to them.)


Thyroid Eye Disease is a condition associated with some forms of thyroid dysfunction. Although this page is about ophthalmic issues (that is, those affecting the eyes / vision), patients with thyroid eye disease are usually also experiencing symptoms of the condition thyrotoxicosis, which is due to excessive amounts of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream - resulting in a wide range of possible symptoms such as rapid heart-beat, sweating, tremors, anxiety, and intolerance of heat, among others.

Ophthalmic symptoms of thyroid eye disease can include some or all of:

  • irritation, such as itchy eyes,
  • aching that seems to come from behind the eyes and is often worse early in the day,
  • difficulty in moving the eyes to look in different directions,
  • double-vision.

Note that not all of these features will necessarily apply in any one case. However, if left untreated the condition may progress to include other and more serious issues.

It is important that those suffering from this condition, or who suspect it, receive appropriate professional advice and treatment. Diagnosis is likely to be most straightforward in the cases of patients who already have known thyroid function abnormalities, especially when both eyes are affected. However, tests are available and may be applied to check for thyroid eye disease whenever this is considered to be a possible reason for problems with the eyes and/or vision.

A wide range of treatments are possible. Specific advice will depend on the particular case. Thyroid Eye Disease is the subject of much current research.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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