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Thyroid Eye Disease New Approaches to Treating Patients with Thyroid Eye Disease This illustration shows two common symptoms of Graves’ hyperthyroidism: exophthalmos or bulging eyes and an enlarged thyroid. Image: Science Source New minimally invasive surgical techniques developed by UCLA ophthalmologists are improving the overall function and aesthetic appearance of patients with thyroid eye disease — a disorder that can not only cause vision problems but also be disfiguring. The new approaches, which can be utilized alone or in conjunction with more traditional therapies, are allowing a much wider range of patients to benefit from treatment. Among patients who can benefit are those with milder forms of the disease who were not considered candidates when the treatment was more invasive, as well as patients with active inflammatory disease who previously might have been advised to wait until their symptoms subsided, even if that meant living with the disfigurement. Thyroid eye disease, most commonly associated with Graves’ hyperthyroidism, is an autoimmune disorder in which the muscles and soft tissue behind the eye become inflamed. “There is a STORY HIGHLIGHTS New approaches to minimally invasive surgical techniques, which can be utilized alone or in conjunction with more traditional therapies, are allowing a much wider range of patients with thyroid eye disease to benefit from treatment. UCLAHEALTH.ORG 1-844-4UCLADR (1-844-482-5237) wide range of severity with this disease,” says Robert Alan Goldberg, MD, Karen and Frank Dabby Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology at the UCLA Stein Eye Institute and director of the UCLA Orbital Disease Center. “The swelling can cause double vision and even vision loss. And the cosmetic concerns are significant; patients can become quite disfigured.” The condition affects about five times more women than men, and it generally occurs when they are in their 30s or 40s. “Although the classic picture of thyroid eye disease is a patient with red, bulging, misaligned eyes, the disease is distinctly heterogeneous and most patients are more mildly affected,” says Daniel B. Rootman, MD, MS, an orbital and ophthalmic plastic surgery specialist who sees patients at Doheny Eye Center UCLA in Pasadena and at the UCLA Orbital Disease Center in Westwood. “But, whether severe or not, patients are often deeply affected by these alterations in their appearance.”