Symptoms of Graves' eye disease include bulging eyes, inflamed eyes, double vision, eye pain and vision loss, states Mayo Clinic. Some symptoms unrelated to the eyes include anxiety, irritability, heat sensitivity, thyroid gland growth and weight loss.
Graves' disease occurs when the body's immune system produces antibodies that deregulate the thyroid gland and affect the muscles around the eyes, explains Mayo Clinic. Although Graves' disease often accompanies hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland, it can also occur in people without thyroid problems. Experts believe that women, people younger than 40 years old and those with a family history of Graves' disease are more susceptible to developing the disease. Smoking, pregnancy and stress may increase risk of the disease for those already susceptible to it.
Graves' disease can cause pregnant women to miscarry or develop preeclampsia and can result in the baby developing thyroid dysfunction, states Mayo Clinic. Graves' disease can also affect the heart and the bones, possibly resulting in heart arrhythmia, congestive heart failure and osteoporosis. Doctors treat Graves' disease with radioactive iodine therapy, which targets and destroys the over-producing thyroid cells; anti-thyroid medications; and beta blockers. Corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce eye inflammation. In some cases, a patient undergoes orbital compression surgery so that bulging eyes can sit farther back in the eye socket.