Graves' disease is a condition where the immune system causes the thyroid to overproduce thyroid hormones. If you suffer from Graves' ophthalmopathy, this means that your immune system overstimulates hormones in the areas around your eyes. Redness, eyelid retraction, swelling of the eyes, and bulging eyes are some of the most common symptoms of Graves' ophthalmopathy.
Your eye doctor may recommend a procedure known as orbital decompression surgery to alleviate the symptoms of the condition. During orbital decompression surgery, your eye surgeon will make incisions around the eye (usually near the eyelid) to reduce the pressure on your eyes. Here are a few details you should know about orbital decompression surgery.
1. Orbital Decompression Surgery Does Not Treat the Underlying Condition
When the effects of Graves' ophthalmopathy are left untreated, the eyes' muscles may put too much pressure on the optic nerve. Should this occur, you may experience double vision, eye infections, or even vision loss. The goal of orbital decompression surgery is to reduce the pressure in and around the eyes.
While the procedure will help save your vision, it will not treat your Graves' ophthalmopathy. Orbital decompression surgery should be combined with treatments that address the body's overproduction of hormones. You may need to take daily thyroid medications or undergo thyroid surgery to alleviate symptoms of Graves' ophthalmopathy permanently.
2. The Procedure Will Improve the Appearance of Your Eyes
It is extremely common for individuals who suffer from Graves' ophthalmopathy to feel self-conscious over the appearance of their bulging eyes. While orbital decompression surgery can literally save your vision, it also improves the appearance of your eyes.
During the procedure, your surgeon will remove at least one of the walls of your eye socket. The removal of eye socket wall reduces the pressure on your eye; this pressure reduction will eliminate your bulging eyes.
3. Orbital Decompression Surgery Will Not Impair Your Vision
Many patients are relieved to learn that orbital decompression surgery does not impair the vision, even temporarily. Though you will experience bruising and swelling around the eyes' sockets, your eyes (and vision) are not affected.
You will not be able to drive yourself home after your procedure; this is due to the fact that the procedure is typically completed under general anesthesia. Even though the surgery is fairly quick, most patients prefer to be asleep during eye surgery.
If you wear contacts, you can resume using your contacts once the incisions around your eyes have healed, This usually takes a week or two. For more information, contact a professional like Leone Nicholas MD PC.