If you or someone you know suffers from Graves’ disease, also referred to as thyroid eye disease, you understand the importance of having not only one experienced surgeon by your side at all times, but the benefit that two different specialized surgeons bring to the table.
At La Peer Health Systems in Los Angeles, we take a unique team approach to Graves’ disease. Our team of expert oculoplastic surgeons work with patients to diagnose thyroid eye disease and offers personalized treatment plans. Plus, we are happy to respond to patients’ thyroid eye disease concerns and questions and ensure that patients receive comprehensive support at all times.
WHAT IS GRAVE’S DISEASE?
When a person is suffering from Grave’s disease, it means that their thyroid is overactive and producing far too many thyroid hormones, also known as hyperthyroidism. Grave’s disease is most commonly seen in individuals during their middle-aged years, though it can occur (rarely) at any point throughout a person’s life.
Graves’ Disease Causes
The causes of Graves’ disease include:
- Genes: If a parent, sibling or relative experienced Graves’ disease, an individual may be more susceptible than others to this condition.
- Gender: Research indicates sex hormones sometimes play a role in Graves’ disease. Additionally, Graves’ disease is more prominent in women than men.
- Stress: Emotional stress or trauma has been shown to trigger Graves’ disease symptoms.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy commonly affects the thyroid, and studies show some women who are diagnosed with Graves’ disease were pregnant in the 12 months before they experienced the onset of symptoms.
- Infection: Some medical experts believe infection may cause Graves’ disease symptoms; however, no studies currently support this claim.
Graves’ Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of Graves’ disease include:
- Eye disease
- Skin disease
- Weight loss
- Increased sensitivity to hot and cold
- Eye protrusion (pain in eye and dry eyes)
If a person experiences one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, it is important to consult with an oculoplastic surgeon. That way, an individual can receive proper thyroid eye disease diagnosis and treatment.
Is Graves’ Disease Hereditary?
Ultimately, many genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the development of Graves’ disease. Although genetics may increase an individual’s risk of thyroid eye disease, there are many other factors that also may cause this condition.
How Serious Is Graves’ Disease?
If Graves’ disease symptoms go unaddressed, the consequences can be serious. Graves’ disease has been linked to heart problems and weak and brittle bones. In some cases, thyroid eye disease can even lead to death.
For those who experience Graves’ disease symptoms, there is no need to wait to address these problems. By consulting with an oculoplastic surgeon, an individual can get the support that he or she needs to mitigate thyroid eye disease symptoms.
Graves’ Disease Treatment
Common Graves’ disease treatment options include:
- Radioactive iodine
- Antithyroid medications such as methimazole (Tapazole) and propylthiouracil (PTU)
- Beta blockers
In most instances, Graves’ disease medication offers a safe, effective treatment option for patients. If medication fails to deliver the ideal results, orbital decompression surgery may prove to be the optimal treatment for Graves’ disease.
What Is Orbital Decompression Surgery?
Orbital decompression surgery involves the removal of one or more of the four walls of the eye socket (orbit). It is generally used to treat Graves’ disease, an immune system disorder that leads to overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). Graves’ disease often causes a combination of thyroid disease, eyelid retraction, double vision and other eyelid problems, and a partial or complete orbital decompression treatment may be performed to treat such issues.
Today, endoscopic orbital decompression surgery is one of the most common procedures used to address Graves’ disease. It was introduced in the 1990s and enables an oculoplastic surgeon to decompress the eye without making incisions in the outside of the face.
How Does Endoscopic Orbital Decompression Surgery Treat Bulging Eyes?
Endoscopic orbital decompression surgery is a minimally invasive procedure. It involves the use of endoscopes (small, rigid telescopes) that enable a surgeon to enter the eye socket via the nose and sinuses.
Endoscopic orbital decompression surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia. A surgeon initially performs an endoscopic sinus surgery and open the sinuses near the eye. Next, the surgeon removes the bone along the side of the eye, and he or she may remove part of the floor of the eye as well. At this point, a thin lining (periorbita) is exposed; this lining covers all portions of the eye. The surgeon makes cuts along the periorbita, which allows eye fat and muscles to bulge into the sinuses. This enlarges the orbit space and “decompresses” the eye at the same time.
Reasons for Orbital Decompression Surgery
Oftentimes, orbital decompression surgery is used to treat a condition that causes the volume or size of the eye to increase. In this instance, changes to the eye impact an individual’s vision or appearance.
Graves’ disease is one of the most common reasons that individuals undergo orbital decompression surgery. This disorder may cause enlargement of the orbital fat and eye muscles. As a result, Graves’ disease patients sometimes experience eye bulging that prevents the eyelids from closing completely. This ultimately leads to eye dryness, increased tearing and eye surface damage, too.
Also, if the eye becomes enlarged, the eye socket itself remains intact. This may make it tough for a person to move the eye, resulting in double vision.
La Peer Health Systems offers full details about orbital decompression surgery for Graves’ disease patients. We provide orbital decompression surgery before and after photos and explain each step of the procedure. By doing so, we help Graves’ disease patients determine if this surgery can help them achieve their desired results.
Causes of Orbital Socket Problems
Common causes of orbital socket problems include:
- Graves’ disease
- Shallow eye sockets
- Sunken cheekbones
- Eye socket tumors
There is also a strong correlation between Graves’ disease and thyroid eye disease (TED), an autoimmune disorder that causes the eye muscles and fatty tissue behind the eye to become inflamed. TED causes the eye to move forward and eyelid to become swollen and red. In certain instances, TED results in swelling and stiffness of the muscles that control eye movement, which may cause double vision. Or, in rare cases, TED puts pressure on the nerve in the back of the eye or ulcers on the front of the eyes, resulting in blindness.
TED may impact a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. In its active phase, TED may affect a person for six months to three years, and those who smoke or are dealing with hypothyroidism may be more susceptible to TED than others.
What to Expect from Your Orbital Decompression Surgery
Orbital decompression surgery involves operating on both the eye and sinuses, and as such, there are risks associated with treatment. Surgery risks include:
- Vision loss
- Double vision
- Bleeding around the eye
- Cheek numbness
- Nasal bleeding
- Eye infection
- Tear duct injury
Because orbital decompression surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, the likelihood of facing any of the aforementioned risks is low. Plus, a doctor helps a patient prepare for treatment so he or she can achieve the best-possible results.
A doctor requests a patient stop smoking and consuming alcohol at least two weeks before orbital decompression surgery. Patients will need to avoid smoking and alcohol consumption for at least two weeks after surgery, too.
Some vitamins, over-the-counter (OTC) medications and herbal supplements may cause excess bleeding. Thus, a doctor may ask a patient to avoid these products in the weeks leading up to orbital decompression surgery.
Furthermore, a doctor asks a patient to prepare cold compresses or bags of ice before treatment. Cold compresses or ice bags help a patient keep swelling down after surgery.
Most orbital decompression surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures under general anesthesia. A typical orbital decompression surgery takes about one hour to complete, but the total time to perform the procedure may vary based on the patient and the severity of his or her eye condition.
After orbital decompression surgery, a patient must have a friend, family member or someone else to take him or her home. A patient should expect swelling and bruising for approximately seven to 10 days after surgery, and mild to moderate pain in the initial days following treatment. Pain medications may be prescribed to help a patient address post-surgery pain.
A doctor helps a patient prepare for all aspects of orbital decompression surgery. He or she enables a patient to establish realistic treatment expectations. As a result, a doctor provides comprehensive support to help a patient achieve his or her desired orbital decompression surgery results.
Set Up a Consultation with an Orbital Decompression Surgeon in LA Today
Graves’ disease is a major problem for many people, but La Peer Health Systems employs friendly, knowledgeable oculoplastic surgeons to diagnose and treat this problem. If you’re interested in learning more about how our surgeons treat thyroid disease and thyroid eye disease, please contact our medical center at (855) 360-9119 to schedule an initial consultation.
Next, read about Neck Lift.