Exophthalmos

Exophthalmos (also called exophthalmia or proptosis) is a bulging of the eye anteriorly out of the orbit. Exophthalmos can be either bilateral (as is often seen in Graves’ disease) or unilateral (as is often seen in an orbital tumor).   In the case of Graves’ disease, the displacement of the eye is due to abnormal connective tissue deposition in the orbit and extraocular muscles which can be visualized by CT or MRI.

If left untreated, exophthalmos can cause the eyelids to fail to close during sleep leading to corneal dryness and damage.  Another possible complication would be a form of redness or irritation called “Superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis”, where the area above the cornea becomes inflamed as a result of increased friction when blinking. The process that is causing the displacement of the eye may also compress the optic nerve or ophthalmic artery, leading to blindness.


Image source Beltina.org

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