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UPMC Multidisciplinary Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) Clinic

What Is Thyroid Eye Disease?

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a condition in which the immune system attacks both the thyroid gland and tissues around the eyes.

It can cause problems such as:

  • Red, swollen, or bulging eyes.
  • Swollen eyelids.
  • Watery or teary eyes.
  • A dry or gritty feeling.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Eye pain or pressure.
  • Blurry or even double vision.
  • Doctors detect TED in 50% of people with Graves' eye disease.

Most cases are mild, and people recover after treating their overactive thyroid. But 5% of those with Graves' disease form moderate to severe Graves' eye disease.

TED hugely reduces the quality of life.

Make an Appointment at the Multidisciplinary TED Clinic

To make an appointment with one of our TED experts, call 412-647-2200.

Why a Multidisciplinary TED Clinic?

When people who have TED get care at a multidisciplinary thyroid eye clinic, they have better outcomes than those who go elsewhere.

At UPMC's clinic, you'll see both an ophthalmologist and endocrinologist skilled in assessing and treating TED.

Endocrine surgery, ENT, and other specialists are also part of the team and provide consults when needed.

What's Our Approach to TED?

When you come to UPMC's Multidisciplinary Thyroid Eye Disease Clinic, you'll first have a complete medical exam of the eyes.

This thorough eye exam:

  • Differs from a primary vision care exam for glasses or contacts.
  • Helps us understand how severe and at what stage the disease is so we can decide on potential treatments.
  • Detects factors you can change — like quitting smoking — to reduce your risk of TED.

We refer smokers to tobacco cessation centers as smoking increases the risk of double vision and bulging eyes by 8-fold.

In mild TED cases, we suggest an overall eye assessment and prescribe selenium to improve quality of life.

For people with active TED, our complete treatment approach involves:

  • Local measures, like eye drops.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Teprotumumab — a human monoclonal antibody that targets the insulin-like growth factor I receptor.
  • Surgery in some cases.

How Do You Treat Hyperthyroidism in People With TED?

Overactive thyroid and TED often occur within one year of each other. But they can also form within decades of each other.

In 10% of people with TED, either their thyroid levels stay normal, or they get autoimmune hypothyroidism.

Our treatment goal is to get your thyroid function back to normal.

We don't advise radioactive iodine to treat moderate-to-severe TED, as it can worsen eye disease.

Treatments for people with moderate-to-severe or sight-threatening eye disease are antithyroid drugs or thyroid surgery.

We suggest surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland in people who have:

  • Adverse reactions to antithyroid drugs.
  • Enlarged thyroid glands.
  • Plans to conceive in the near future.

Our Thyroid Eye Disease Experts