Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition in which immune cells attack the thyroid gland, which in turn responds by secreting an excess amount of thyroid hormone. As a result, the inflamed thyroid gland can enlarge (“goiter”) and excess hormone changes metabolism and affects the function of the heart, brain and other organs. The eyes are particularly vulnerable to thyroid disease, because the immune system that attacks the thyroid gland often also targets the eye muscles and connective tissue within the eye socket. The skin is also affected, but to a lesser degree in most patients.
Today’s blog will discuss the basics of Graves disease and thyroid eye disease. This most likely will be the first in a series of blogs on this really important and complex topic, and will focus on the treatment of the endocrine disorder itself.