Blog Going For A Thyroid Eye Disease Surgery? Here’s What You Need To Know.

Going For A Thyroid Eye Disease Surgery? Here’s What You Need To Know.

Thyroid eye disease surgery can be a daunting option when you read all the articles highlighting the negative impacts.

Surgery may not answer “How to reduce swelling from thyroid eye disease?” but it surely is a permanent solution.

Going for surgery is a prominent option that usually includes a lot of mental and emotional preparation.

Usually, when a surgery is suggested, it is after medical consideration by the physician and the team that is involved in a person’s care.  

Surgery for thyroid eye disease becomes an option only after your eyes’ condition deteriorates severely. It is known that nearly 40% of the people with Graves’ disease develop thyroid eye disease.

Consequently, people who experience the symptoms are given the appropriate treatment that can help in its management.  

We’re here to tell you how you can trust your decision to go for the surgery. The following article will describe the condition, while also highlighting the need for surgery.  


What is thyroid eye disease?  

Thyroid eye disease is a type of autoimmune disorder in which the tissue surrounding the eyes undergoes severe damage. The condition can cause symptoms that are similar to those a person with Graves’ disease experiences.

The treatment of this disease is usually medication and lifestyle changes. However, surgery can also be an option depending on the severity of the condition.  

Thyroid eye disease affects the eyes, specifically the tissues surrounding it such as the ocular muscles, connective and fatty tissues.  

The autoimmune condition occurs in two phases, first, the inflammatory or active phase and finally, the stable phase. The length of the active phase varies, ranging from a few months to a couple of years. The final phase begins after the first phase ends.  

The symptoms of this condition are:  

  • Irritation in the eyes due to a gritty feeling 
  • Dry eyes  
  • Redness in the eyes 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Proptosis or bulging eyes  
  • Diplopia or double vision 
  • Vision loss  
  • Difficulty closing eyes  
  • A characteristic “stare”  
  • Pain with eye movement and behind eyes  

Some of these signs such as bulging eyes are a common symptom between Graves’ disease and thyroid eye disease.  

Need For Thyroid Eye Disease Surgery 

You might wonder how does a physician decide that there is a need for thyroid eye disease surgery? Well, simply put, the need for any surgery arises when the condition has deteriorated beyond repair with medicines and lifestyle changes.

These two are part of the effective treatment options for thyroid eye disease. For example, when selenium for thyroid eye disease fails. 

The following incidences require the need for a surgical intervention:  

  • Pain with eye movement 
  • Swelling in eyelids or eyeballs  
  • Pressure on the optic nerve  

These are a few of the situations when surgical intervention becomes mandatory. Thus, your doctor may recommend the following:  

  1. Strabismus or eye muscle surgery 
  1. Eyelid surgery  
  1. Orbital decompression  

As per a recent study adults above the age of 18 years with Graves’ disease, going for thyroid eye disease surgery required any one of the three options in the list above.

The study also explored smoking as a risk factor. There is a higher chance for smokers to go for surgical interventions than those who were former smokers or were never in the habit.  

Moreover, there was a lower risk for people who were former smokers, which highlighted the role of smoking cessation. Another popular option with this condition is thyroid eye disease radiology.  

Thyroid Eye Disease Surgery Options 

Surgery becomes imperative in this disease when the condition worsens to the one listed in the above section. Here is an in-depth look at the surgical interventions:  

1. Strabismus Or Eye Muscle Surgery 

An active thyroid eye disease can result in the buildup of scar tissue on the eye muscle. The scar tissue shortens the eye muscle and limits the eye’s movement. This leads to misalignment.

The strabismus surgery fixes this misalignment as the surgeon operates away the muscle that is damaged. Don’t worry, it’s not left as it as the surgeon reattaches it to the eye. The eyes then return to their correct position and restore a normal range of motion.  

The cost of this surgery can vary depending on the area you are getting the surgery done. Moreover, the cost of the surgery is usually covered by insurance, so it is best to consult your insurance agent.

However, on average the cost of the surgery can be around $5000 USD, with out-of-pocket costs coming to $4000-$9000.  

In addition, the side effects of the surgery have been seen to be:  

  • Irritation 
  • Redness 
  • Watery eyes 

Double vision after the surgery is a common issue that comes up after the surgery. With time, this improves over the days and weeks that follow.  

One of the most effective ways to fix double vision. There are also strengthening exercises that help in recovery. Your surgeon or doctor may suggest exercises that are beneficial for your recovery. And you will also find glasses with a prism to be helpful in recovery.  

It is rare; however, you may require follow-up surgery.  

2. Eyelid Surgery  

Eyelid surgery usually is to fix eyelid retraction. As known, thyroid eye disease causes fatty tissues and muscles present around the eyes to swell. This is an eyelid retraction surgery wherein the position of the eyes is fixed.

Due to the classic symptom of bulging eyes, the eyelids cannot cover the whole eye, exposing a part of the eye. This leads to irritation of the exposed part.  

The surgery is conducted under general anesthesia. However, the surgery is not performed until the disease condition is stable. This implies that other surgeries, if needed, can be done first. The eye needs to be in the proper position before the eyelid surgery can be done. 

The eyelid retraction takes at least 1-2 weeks to recover. You may experience side effects such as sensitivity and redness for a few days.

Like other surgical interventions, the cost may vary on common factors like location and insurance. However, the average cost falls around $8,400.  

The advancements in surgery are providing better results for the patient as they are less invasive. The retraction surgery relieves irritation and helps you return to the before-TED self.  

3. Orbital Decompression 

When the swelling behind your eyes puts pressure on your optic nerve, it can affect your vision. The eye can even become further pushed out of the socket.

This requires surgical intervention where the fat or bone is removed to make space for the eye. This reduces the pressure on your optic nerve and protects your vision.  

The recovery period takes about one to two weeks. There may be a slight experience of side effects, commonly double vision. The cost varies depending on the area and surgeon you go to.

However, the cost can fall anywhere between $7000 to $12,000. The cost also varies depending on insurance coverage.  


To conclude, thyroid eye disease surgery is a costly affair, however, when you weigh-in the benefits, it’s a cost-effective procedure.

Not everyone with thyroid eye disease requires surgery. However, if they experience severe symptoms such as the ones in the article.  

The recent advancements have made the surgical experience even better. Collaboration between your medical teams can help them decide the best treatment.  

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