Thyroid eye disease (TED) is an eye condition in which the eye muscles and fatty tissue behind the eye become inflamed. This can cause the eyes to be pushed forward so they look ‘staring’ or ‘bulging’, and the eyes and eyelids become swollen and red. In some cases the muscles that move the eyes become swollen or stiff so that the eyes are no longer in line with each other – this can cause double vision.

TED is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the back of the eye and causes inflammation. It is mainly associated with an overactive thyroid gland that is caused by Graves’ disease. However, it occasionally occurs in people with an underactive or normal thyroid. It's also linked to smoking and can be made worse by swings in thyroid levels from overactive to underactive. There's some evidence to suggest that TED can be made worse  by passive smoking.

TED is much less common in children and young people with Graves' disease than in older people. In the majority of children affected it's usually mild and only rarely requires any surgical intervention.

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