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Thyroid Eye Disease (Graves’ Disease)

Struggling with thyroid eye disease can be quite difficult. Bulging, swelling, irritation, and double vision can all post not only aesthetic but functional challenges as well. If left untreated, this disease can significantly impact one’s way of life and lead to further health complications. Dr. Connor, along with our dedicated staff here at Oculoplastic & Orbital Consultants, have been helping people manage and treat their Graves’ disease symptoms for years. We invite you to explore our surgical treatment options and experience what effective care can do for you.

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What Is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Thyroid eye disease, or Graves’ disease, is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. The disease is characterized by persistent autoimmune attacks to normal thyroid tissues. The disease can also attack the soft tissues surrounding the eye, including the muscles that turn the eye. Graves’ disease can lead to bulging of the eye from the eye being pushed forward due to the swollen tissue behind it. The eyelids can also be affected.

Who Does Thyroid Eye Disease Affect?

Studies show that smokers are generally more prone to develop thyroid eye disease than nonsmokers. Second-hand exposure to smoke has the same effect as active smoking and should be avoided as well. Additionally, those receiving radioiodine therapy for the treatment of hyperthyroidism are more susceptible to developing Graves’ disease. Some symptoms of this disease include irritation, redness or inflammation, excessive tearing, and swelling, among others.

Woman receiving a medical inspection for thyroid eye disease

How Does Treatment Work?

Diagnosis of Graves’ may be made by your primary care physician or ophthalmologist, who may refer you to our oculoplastic surgeon, Dr. Connor. Once the thyroid eye disease has been quiet for several months, surgery can be done to restore your natural appearance. Treatment includes an orbital decompression for bulging eyes. This is where the bony walls around the eye are removed to allow the swollen tissues to expand into the surrounding sinuses. The eye can then sink back into its natural position. Following an orbital decompression, any double vision that exists can be addressed by a strabismus surgeon. The last step in the reconstructive process is addressing any eyelid abnormality.

How Does Treatment Help?

Surgical treatment of thyroid eye disease can provide long-term relief from swelling and irritation as well as improve eye movement and facilitate better closure. If you are a smoker or have high cholesterol, it is important to take measures in order to reduce symptoms and prevent the disease from recurring.

Expectations During Thyroid Eye Disease Treatment

Before considering surgery, certain steps can be taken to alleviate symptoms of thyroid eye disease. These include using a cool compress, lubricating eyes with drops, and wearing glasses with prisms. These steps can help manage symptoms until the disease goes away. If Graves’ disease persists, surgical intervention can be beneficial. Surgery to treat thyroid eye disease is performed under twilight anesthesia and can take between 30-60 minutes.

What Is Recovery Like After the Procedure?

Due to the nature of thyroid eye disease, a series of surgeries will likely be required to correct the bulging appearance of your eyes, minimize double vision, and adjust the eyelids. These surgeries are performed in a specific order. While some patients may achieve desired results with the first surgery, more than one stage of surgery is usually needed to achieve optimal rehabilitation. The surgeries will be performed in 2-4 month intervals. Following the procedures, patients can normally return to regular activity in 1-2 weeks.

How Much Does Thyroid Eye Treatment Cost?

Pricing for Graves’ disease surgery depends on the complexity of your condition and the number of procedures necessary. Additional components that can impact your overall expense include the skill and experience of the surgeon. To provide a custom cost estimate for this treatment, Dr. Connor will need to perform a thorough evaluation of your eyes and surrounding areas. Dr. Connor can provide a cost estimate during an in-person consultation at our Palm Beach Gardens practice.

Does Insurance Cover This Treatment?

Orbital decompression, eye muscle surgery, and eyelid retraction surgery are typically all covered by insurance. These surgeries are meant to improve the patient’s eye and eyelid function and are therefore considered “medical.” However, the range of coverage for these procedures may be dependent on your specific insurer and plan. We recommend discussing your coverage with your provider as well as our staff before committing to these procedures.

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Dr. Michael Connor and staff were very kind and accomodating. They spent time to explain the procedure and answered all questions.

– Ziba M.


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Treating Thyroid Eye Disease in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Palm Beach Gardens oculoplastic surgeon Michael Connor, MD is considered one of the top eyelid surgeons in South Florida. His years of experience in addressing thyroid eye disease makes him exceptionally qualified to deliver the results you seek. For more information on what treatment entails, we invite you to contact Oculoplastic & Orbital Consultants today by calling (561) 845-6500 or filling out the form below.

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Our Location

4060 PGA BOULEVARD | SUITE 101
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL 33410

P: (561) 845-6500
F: (561) 845-6300

Office Hours

Monday: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Tuesday: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Wednesday: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Thursday: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

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(561) 845-6500