Thyroid eye disease (TED) is an inflammatory eye disease that causes damage and swelling in the tissues around the eyes.
The most common cause of TED is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to become overactive. TED is sometimes called Graves’ orbitopathy or Graves’ ophthalmopathy.
TED happens when your immune cells mistakenly attack the fat and fibroblast tissues around the eyes. The disease can cause eye irritation, bulging eyes, swelling, retracted eyelids, light sensitivity, and vision problems. In rare cases, TED can cause permanent loss of vision.
Most people with TED have mild symptoms. The disease usually enters an inactive phase after about 6 months to 3 years, but scar tissue can form in the eyelid and eye muscle during the inactive phase.