How Thyroid Eye Disease Is Treated

Thyroid eye disease affects the muscles and tissues of your eyes. It is caused by an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) from Graves’ disease. You may need to see specialists such as ophthalmologists, endocrinologists, internists, surgeons, and other healthcare providers to receive treatment for this condition.

First, your healthcare provider will want to treat your Graves’ disease with medications, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery. Managing your overactive thyroid is important for your eye health. Sometimes treatment for Graves’ disease is not enough to help with thyroid eye disease, so you will need additional treatments, including lifestyle, over-the-counter (OTC), prescription, and surgical options.

Close-up of woman putting in eye drops

Chakrapong Worathat / EyeEm / Getty Images

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Your healthcare provider may decide to start the process by carefully watching your symptoms to see if they worsen before prescribing treatments for thyroid eye disease. This is usually done if your symptoms are mild and do not interfere with the quality of your life.

Symptoms can improve on their own. During this time, you may want to discuss home remedies or lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes and home remedies may include: 

  • Quitting smoking
  • Putting cool compresses on the eyes to reduce swelling and irritation
  • Wearing sunglasses to reduce sensitivity to light
  • Wearing glasses with prisms to fix double vision
  • Wearing an eyepatch to fix double vision
  • Raising the head of your bed to sleep higher and reduce swelling 
  • Taping eyelids closed at night to prevent dry eyes 
  • Changing your diet to reduce excess iodine

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

Most OTC therapies for thyroid eye disease focus on keeping the eyes moist and reducing inflammation.

OTC treatments may include: 

  • Eye drops
  • Artificial tears  
  • Lubricating ointments for the eyes 
  • Anti-inflammatory medications 

Prescriptions 

Your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medications if other treatments are not working.

Prescriptions may include: 

  • Corticosteroids such as prednisone to reduce inflammation and swelling of the eye muscles 
  • Rituximab to lower inflammation 
  • Teprotumumab trbw (Tepezza) to block protein activity that may cause the disease 
  • Tocilizumab to improve eye symptoms 
  • Mycophenolate mofetil to suppress the immune system 

Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures

Surgery may be necessary if your thyroid eye disease is severe, and other treatments do not help.

Surgical procedures may:

  • Reduce eye bulging
  • Fix vision problems
  • Relieve compression of the optic nerve

Usually, your healthcare provider will want to wait until the active part of the disease ends, so there is less inflammation or swelling before surgery.

Procedures may include: 

  • Eyelid surgery to move retracted eyelids back to a normal position 
  • Orbital decompression surgery to make the eye socket bigger and create space for the eye to move to a normal position  
  • Eye muscle surgery to fix double vision
  • Removing scar tissue from your eye muscles
  • Relieving the pressure or compression of the optic nerves 

In rare cases, radiation therapy (orbital radiotherapy) for the eye muscles and tissues may be necessary. This procedure destroys some of the damaged eye tissues. 

Multiple Surgeries

Sometimes more than one surgery may be required to achieve the best results and improve vision. Your healthcare provider will discuss all the options before the first surgery happens.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Before trying any complementary or alternative medicine treatments for thyroid eye disease, you should discuss them with your practitioner.

Check with Your Healthcare Provider

Some treatments can interfere with medications or cause side effects. Always discuss all your OTC, herbal, vitamin, and mineral supplements with a healthcare provider. 

Research indicates that some people who have thyroid eye disease may be deficient in selenium and vitamin D.

Taking supplements with selenium and vitamin D may be helpful, but studies are limited on the effectiveness of this treatment. Selenium supplements may be more useful for people who live in areas with soil that is deficient in this mineral.

A Word From Verywell

Finding the right treatments for thyroid eye disease can take time, so it is important to remain patient. You may need a combination of treatments, such as lifestyle, OTC, and prescription options to feel better. 

The goal of your treatment is to reduce symptoms while minimizing any side effects from medications. The quality of your life matters, so you should discuss any concerns about side effects with your practitioners. They may be able to adjust or change medications that are causing problems. 

Not everyone will need surgery for thyroid eye disease, but it can relieve many symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend trying other treatments before having surgery. 

Was this page helpful?
5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Thyroid eye disease

  2. National Institutes of Health: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Graves' disease. Updated September 2017.

  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is Graves’ disease? Updated December 1, 2020. 

  4. American Thyroid Association. Graves’ eye disease.

  5. Jonklaas J, Danielsen M, Wang H. A pilot study of serum selenium, vitamin d, and thyrotropin concentrations in patients with thyroid cancerThyroid. 2013;23(9):1079-1086. doi:10.1089/thy.2012.0548