Hyperthyroidism is a common thyroid disease. With hyperthyroidism, there is an overproduction of thyroid hormones. People with this condition may experience some complications in relation to the eye. When this occurs it is called thyroid eye disease. These eye problems are most commonly caused by abnormal swelling of the soft tissues surrounding the eyes, and enlargement of the muscles that move the eyes and open the eyelids. This results in eyes that protrude forward. When this occurs there may be a retraction of the upper eyelids which forces the lids apart which causes an inability to fully close the eyelids, and an abnormally large amount of the front of the eyes are exposed. This results in wide prominent eyes, a fixed staring expression, and infrequent blinking of the eyelids.
Orbital decompression is used to treat those with thyroid eye disease. This procedure can be used to reduce the bulging of the eyeballs. Many patients with thyroid eye disease will also experience compression of the optic nerve causing them to lose vision and possibly go blind. In this circumstance, patients require decompression surgery to save their vision.