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What are the symptoms and signs of thyroid related eye problems?

A staring appearance and dry eyes are often the first symptoms. Early signs include swelling and redness of the eyelids and tissues around the eye. The eyes can also become red and the conjunctiva may swell giving a «jelly-like» appearance above the lower eyelids (chemosis). Swelling of the orbital fat surrounding the eye and the eye muscles can push the eye forward creating a protrusion of the eye (exophthalmos). The degree of protrusion is variable and may involve one or both eyes. Protrusion and other symptoms and signs of thyroid eye disease may be present even when tests show a normal level of thyroid hormone in the blood. Most patients with eye symptoms, however, have abnormal blood levels of thyroid hormone. Swelling of the muscles which move the eyes may produce double vision. In severe cases, the clear covering of the eye (the cornea) may ulcerate, or the optic nerve may be compressed resulting in loss of vision.