Common physical symptoms

There are a number of symptoms and signs associated with Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) although not everyone will have all of them. These include:

  • changes in the appearance of the eyes that look staring or bulging (known as proptosis or exophthalmus)
  • sore eyes that are dry, watery or feel gritty
  • swollen eye lids
  • red eyelids and eyes
  • blurred or double vision
  • pain in or behind the eye, especially when looking up, down or sideways
  • difficulty moving the eyes
  • eye discomfort in bright lights

Emotional or psychological symptoms

If your child has fluctuating thyroid levels, they may also feel anxious and irritable or suffer from mood swings until their thyroid levels become stable.

If your child’s eyes change in appearance, it may affect their self-esteem. They may feel angry and isolated. Treatment and counselling can help.

Severe symptoms

Less than five per cent of people with TED experience very severe symptoms. These can include:

  • disabling double vision
  • ulcers on the cornea that interfere with vision. The cornea is the delicate covering of the coloured part of the eye
  • the optic nerve becoming compressed causing a loss of vision. This is very rare.

Symptoms that need urgent treatment

If your child develops any of the following, you should see your GP straightaway and ask for an immediate referral to a specialist eye centre with experience of treating TED:

  • symptoms that get increasingly worse over a period of several days or weeks
  • your child has blurred vision that does not improve by blinking or covering each of the eyes in turn
  • your child becomes aware that colours do not appear as bright as they used to, or there is a difference in how bright colours seem when you compare one eye with the other
  • your child sees double on looking forwards or downwards
  • your child has to keep their head tilted sideways or backwards to avoid seeing double.