What Is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Thyroid Eye Disease is an autoimmune disorder

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) is a condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks the muscle and fat tissue behind your eyes, causing inflammation (redness and swelling) and scar tissue to form.

The inflammation and scar tissue that forms can cause many changes to your eyes, like:

  • Eye bulging––also called “proptosis” (prop-toe-sis) or “exophthalmos” (ek-sof-thal-muhs)
  • Misaligned eyes or eyes that don’t work together––also called “strabismus” (strah-biz-muss)
  • Double vision––also called “diplopia” (dih-ploh-pee-uh)

...And more. TED can have an impact on your physical appearance, visual ability, and even your emotional well-being. Learn more about TED symptoms.

6 commonly used terms for Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)

TED is a rare and unique condition, but is often considered part of a separate condition called Graves’ disease. It’s important to remember that they are different diseases and require different medicines. Although they are separate from one another, TED is often called by different names containing the word Graves’ or thyroid, like:

  • Graves’ eye disease
  • Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO)
  • Graves’ orbitopathy
  • Graves’ disease eyes
  • Thyroid-associated orbitopathy (TAO)
  • Thyroid ophthalmopathy

If you hear any of these terms, know that they mean Thyroid Eye Disease (TED).

Questions? Call a Nurse Advocate.

Get answers about TED and help finding a TED Specialist.

Call 1-833-833-3930

Monday through Friday, 8AM to 8PM, ET.

Nurse Advocates do not provide individual patient care or medical advice. After speaking with a Nurse Advocate, be sure to talk to your doctor about your condition and treatment options.

Diagnosing Thyroid Eye Disease

TED is rare and catching it early is important, so it should be diagnosed by a doctor who has experience treating it––a TED Specialist.

TED Specialists are ophthalmologists who usually have advanced training, such as oculoplastic surgeons, neuro- ophthalmologists, and strabismus surgeons.

The first step in diagnosing Thyroid Eye Disease is to get a baseline eye exam by your TED Specialist. They will look for TED symptoms, such as red or watery eyes, eyelids that don’t close properly, or puffy eyelids.

One of the most common symptoms of TED is eye bulging, also known as proptosis or exophthalmos. To diagnose TED, your doctor may use an exophthalmometer to measure how far your eyes are bulging.

Your TED Specialist can also tell you which phase of TED you are in: acute or chronic.

Your TED Specialist will also want to know all about your medical history, like if you have a thyroid condition, if anyone in your family has had thyroid problems, and if you are a smoker.

Find a TED Specialist