Mumbai: City doctors are seeing an increasing number of thyroid eye disease (TED) patients. In the last two years, the incidences of TED have increased by 20.25% as patients couldn’t get diagnosed on time due to the pandemic, thus leading to delayed treatment. Further, a number of patients were unaware of the symptoms and complications of TED due to a lack of awareness.
Symptoms of TED
According to experts, the symptoms range from simple eyelid retraction to bulging of eyes with dryness and watering to serious problems such as severe pain, oedema of the tissues around the eye, unable to close the eyes, limitation of eye movements, double vision, and loss of vision.
“The complaints are more in the morning hours and often fluctuate in severity over the days and weeks. TED has an active and inactive phase. The former needs medical treatment, while surgery is done in the inactive phase to restore normal appearance. The condition occurs more often in women and is commonly seen in the age group of 30-50,” he said, adding that it is more severe after the age of 50.
Dr Nita Shah, head of clinical services (Chembur), said the increase is largely due to the pandemic, as many patients delayed diagnosis and treatment for thyroid diseases, leading to an uncontrolled rise in thyroidlevels. “The pandemic also induced severe mental stress, which has a detrimental effect on thyroid levels in the body, further aggravating thyroid disorders. Recent studies have indicated that the Covid-19 virus may also cause thyroid dysfunction as it can invade the thyroid gland and trigger immune mechanisms,” she said, adding that there is also the possibility of antiviral drugs affecting the gland.
Reversible if treated on time
According to Dr Shah, in the initial stages when a patient experiences redness in the eyes, dry eyes, exposure keratopathy and incomplete closure of the lids, ocular lubricants are prescribed. Sunglasses can be worn while going outdoors to avoid photophobia. In the later stages of the disease, where there is moderate to severe proptosis or optic nerve compression (vision loss), the patient is put on intravenous steroids, and immunosuppressants, or has to undergo orbital radiation and orbital decompression surgery (squint surgery / lid surgery). “Patients with thyroid disorder must keep their thyroid levels under control and get a regular eye check-ups from an ophthalmologist. Most of the signs of TED are reversible if treated on time,” she said.
TED is a rare, vision-threatening autoimmune condition that causes the muscles and fatty tissues behind the eye to become inflamed and enlarged, leading to bulging of the eyes. In addition to the bulging appearance, patients can experience double vision and light sensitivity. The disease can lead to blindness. Even people with normal thyroid levels can have this condition.
Source : The Free Press Journal