Do Graves' Disease Affected Eyes Go Back To Normal?

Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the neck — works too hard. Also known as hyperthyroidism, Graves' disease develops when there's an overproduction of thyroid hormones, WebMD reports. The thyroid is responsible for releasing hormones vital to the body that help control metabolism. It's believed the immune system is to blame for attacking the thyroid and causing it to produce too many hormones. When hyperthyroidism occurs, it results in health problems for the whole body.

Those who suffer from Graves' disease may experience a wide range of symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of Graves' disease include anxiety, weight loss, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and even bulging eyes, known as Graves' ophthalmopathy. Not everyone with Graves' disease will experience bulging eyes, but around 30% of Graves' disease patients do. Additionally, the eyes may become irritated and red or feel gritty or painful.

Treatment for Graves' ophthalmopathy

Depending on the person, the eyes can be pushed significantly out of their sockets due to swelling from the immune system attack on the thyroid, Healthline reports. There are medications, such as steroid shots, that can help reduce swelling and inflammation around the eyes. This allows them to return to their normal position as much as possible. According to eMedicine Health, eyes affected by Graves' ophthalmopathy may take two to three years to improve, or patients simply adapt to their new eyes. Whether or not a person's eyes go back to normal after Graves' disease depends on the severity of the condition.

When eyes are unable to improve or the autoimmune disorder is too severe, some patients seek surgery. Surgery may include procedures on the eyelids or eye muscles, or involve orbital decompression (via Healthline). The active stage of Graves' ophthalmopathy can last anywhere from six months to two years with surgery not taking place until the eyes are in the inactive stage. Surgery helps the eyes return to as much normalcy as possible if the eyes did not improve beforehand.