Selenium supplements are helpful in patients with mild thyroid eye disease

Dr Petros Perros, former Chairman, European Group on Graves’ Orbitopathy (EUGOGO), writes:

Most patients with thyroid eye disease have a mild form of this condition, though their symptoms are often very troublesome. In such cases treatments like steroids or radiotherapy are not appropriate because the side-effects cannot be justified when the eye features are mild. So, these patients have to be watched and bear it until the eye disease settles down, which can take several months.

This approach to treatment of mild thyroid eye disease is likely to change.

A large European study performed by the European Group On Graves’ Orbitopathy (EUGOGO) has recently shown that the trace element selenium had a significant effect in patients with mild, active thyroid eye disease.

Six months of selenium supplements had a beneficial effect on thyroid eye disease and were associated with improvement in the quality of life of participants. These positive effects persisted at 12 months. There were no side-effects.

Selenium acts as an antioxidant and also has effects on thyroid autoimmunity, though the exact mechanism of its action in patients with thyroid eye disease is unknown.


Marcocci et al. Selenium and the Course of Mild Graves' Orbitopathy. New England Journal of Medicine 2011; 364:1920-1931