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Thyroid Eye Disease Treatment in Phoenix

Written by Dr. Ali Ghafouri

Also Serving Patients in Scottsdale

Thyroid eye disease is also known as Graves’s eye disease or Graves’ orbitapathy. The disease affects the thyroid gland, causing it to produce an excessive amount of thyroid hormone. This overproduction of thyroid hormone is caused by the body’s own immune system behaving abnormally and attacking the thyroid gland. Therefore Graves’ disease is called an autoimmune disorder. Although this condition can affect multiple organ systems, the eyes are especially susceptible to Graves’ disease. The same antibodies attacking the thyroid gland also attack eye muscles, eyelids and the tissue within the boney eye socket.

When these tissues and muscles come under attack, They become inflamed and swollen. The eyes begin to bulge forward, the eyelids retract, and the muscles moving the eye get enlarged. The resulting symptoms can include light sensitivity, dry eyes, red eyes, double vision, loss of vision and even sensations of pressure within the eye sockets. Severe cases of thyroid eye disease may result in damage to the optic nerve or cornea.

Once eye swelling has stabilized, however, Dr. Ghafouri can help you restore a more natural appearance with specialized surgeries designed specifically for thyroid eye disease patients. This may include operating on your eyelid to restore it to a more natural position, orbital decompression, as well as performing eye muscle surgery to realign the eyes.

It is important to recognize that surgery is not a cure for thyroid disease, but it is helpful in restoring quality of life, eliminating double vision and creating achieving aesthetic goals.

Thyroid Eye Disease Treatment ScottsdaleArizona Oculoplastic Specialists treats both the aesthetic and physical symptoms associated with this disease, helping relieve patients of eye discomfort while improving the appearance of their eyes. If you would like to learn more about these treatments, contact our office today to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Ali Ghafouri.

What Thyroid Eye Disease Treatment Addresses

Though not a cure for thyroid disease itself, our treatment addresses the changes to the eyes caused by the disease (also known as thyroid-related orbitopathy). These include:

  • Bulging eye appearance
  • Puffy or retracted eyelids
  • Dry eyes or watery eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Eye irritation (feeling like there’s something in the eye)

Thyroid Eye Disease Surgery Details

Dr. Ghafouri’s treatment for eyes affected by thyroid disease involves surgery designed to restore function and give the eyes a more natural-looking and improved appearance. Depending on the patient’s needs, different methods will be used to strengthen the eye muscles and/or improve the position of the upper eyelids, allowing them to hang lower over the eyes. For eyes that have a “puffy” appearance, excess fatty tissue may be removed from the upper or lower eyelids (or both). These methods can all be accomplished through small incisions made in the natural fold of the upper lids and/or inside the lower lid or under the lower lash line. Surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and typically takes 30-60 minutes to accomplish.

Recovering from Surgery

As with any eyelid surgery, there will be some swelling and bruising around the eye area for the first couple of weeks after surgery. Patients should follow the post-operative instructions provided by Dr. Ghafouri to ensure that they heal properly and their recovery is safe and comfortable. Most patients can return to work within four to five days of surgery, though it may take longer depending on the type and extent of the surgery. Strenuous exercises and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least 10 days after surgery.


How long does the surgery take?

Thyroid Eye Treatment ScottsdaleThe procedure itself typically takes approximately 30-60 minutes, though you will need to arrive at the surgery center approximately one hour before surgery and will be discharged about 30-45 minutes after the surgery.

Is the surgery painful?

One or more forms of eyelid surgery are used for treatment. All of them cause minimal discomfort as they involve small incisions and the surgery is performed with the patient under general anesthesia or IV sedation. Afterwards, most patients find that taking Tylenol and gently applying a clean, cold compress to the eyes provides all the relief they need. Dr. Ghafouri also provides post-operative instructions for each of his patients to follow in order to ensure a comfortable recovery.

What type of anesthesia is used for surgery?

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia with either general anesthesia or IV (intravenous) sedation administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist.

Will the surgery leave a noticeable scar?

Since the surgical incisions are small they can be strategically placed in the upper eyelid crease, or inside the lower eyelid or under the lower lash line, so that any resulting scars are minimal and well-hidden.

How long will my results last?

The effects of eyelid surgery for the treatment of thyroid eye disease include better protection of the eye surface and an improved eye appearance; these results are permanent, especially as the surgery is performed after the eye-swelling effects of the disease have stabilized, so no further adjustment is needed.

What are the possible risks and complications of the surgery?

As with any type of plastic surgery, general risks include infection, poor healing, scarring, and bleeding. The risks specifically associated with eyelid surgery include dry eyes, photosensitivity (sensitivity to the sun), eye irritation and visual changes. Please read our informed consent form for a more detail discussion. In the hands of an experienced and specialized surgeon like Dr. Ghafouri, eyelid surgery is very safe, with minimal risk of complications.

Why should I have Dr. Ghafouri perform my eyelid surgery?

Dr. Ghafouri is an eyelid surgery specialist who has the training and experience of both an ophthalmologist and a plastic surgeon; therefore, he knows how to design a surgical treatment that will give patients with thyroid disease a more natural eye appearance while at the same time improving the function of the eyelids themselves.


Arizona Oculoplastic Specialists

9431 E. Ironwood Square Dr.
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Phone: (480) 905-1010

Fax: (480) 905-6988

Office Hours

Monday: 8 am - 5 pm

Tuesday: 8 am - 5 pm

Wednesday: 8 am - 5 pm

Thursday: 8 am - 5 pm

Friday: 8 am - 4 pm

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed