TEAMeD (Thyroid Eye Disease Amsterdam Declaration Implementation Group UK) has won a major award for their work on improving outcomes for patients with thyroid eye disease through prevention, early diagnosis and early intervention. They won the Judges’ Special Award at the Bayer Ophthalmology Honours Ceremony, which identifies exceptional initiatives that show clinical excellence and innovation in ophthalmology.

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is an autoimmune condition in which the eye muscles and fatty tissue behind the eye become inflamed, causing eyes to bulge forward and become swollen and red. This condition is associated with an overactive thyroid gland due to Graves’ disease. It affects over 100,000–150,000 people in the UK and can be painful, cause disfiguration, double vision and occasionally loss of vision

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to minimising side effects and facial disfiguration caused by the condition. To this end, TEAMeD developed a number of initiatives to improve patient experience that contributed towards the award including: 

  • Publishing national guidelines on how to assess and manage patients with thyroid eye disease and how to identify which patients should be referred to specialist centres for treatment.
  • Developing an online anti-smoking tool to advise patients with TED on the risks of smoking. This is a key early intervention factor as patients with Graves’ disease who smoke heavily are eight times more likely to go on to develop TED, with these patients also more likely to suffer more severe forms of the disease.
  • Developing and piloting a new diagnostic tool for doctors to use which identifies previously undiagnosed patients with TED.
  • Collecting and publishing audit data on specialist services for thyroid eye disease.

Speaking about the award, the judges commented,

“This is a fantastic team providing fantastic care. It is an amazing initiative which doesn’t quite fit into any single category in this year’s awards but it has strong aspects of each of the three group categories and so all of the judging panel agreed that this entry should be recognised and awarded the Judges’ Special Award. The performance of this team is outstanding and a thorough service is being provided which is something that patients will really benefit from. We believe that one day every Trust will be using their guidelines.” The judges also felt that TEAMeD’s achievements had potential for global impact.

Professor Colin Dayan, thyroid specialist from Cardiff University and Chair of TEAMeD said,

“The TEAMeD group have brought patient and professional organisations together to collect data on delays and treatment variation for patients with thyroid eye disease around the UK, as well as achieve consensus on referral guidelines and best practice with eye specialists and physicians. Currently only 20% of thyroid eye disease patients are seen in a specialist multidisciplinary clinic. TEAMeD aim to halve the time from first symptoms to being seen by a specialist, and increase the percentage of patients cared for by specialists with extensive experience of this condition.

“We’re delighted that the judges valued our work, and hope that this award will also help to raise awareness of the importance of prompt referral to specialist care to improve outcomes in thyroid eye disease."

“This award is great news and hopefully will help raise awareness of this difficult condition among health professionals,” said Dr Petros Perros, Consultant Endocrinologist from the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “TEAMeD could not have made progress without a great deal of effort from each of its members, the support of professional bodies represented, but most importantly the contribution from patients representing the British Thyroid Foundation and Thyroid Eye Disease Charitable Trust, which has been crucial. We are very grateful to the judges for this prestigious award and I am very proud to be a member of TEAMeD.”

Janis Hickey, Director and Founder of the British Thyroid Foundation, a national patient support organisation, said, “As a patient representative on the project, I’m delighted that our work has been acknowledged by this prestigious award. Thyroid eye disease is often diagnosed late and has a significant effect on quality of life for patients with the condition. This project has given us an opportunity to develop new initiatives to help doctors and patients manage the condition and we are now committed to making sure patients across the country has access to high standards of treatments and care.”