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Thyroid Eye Disease and an Angry Aaji

“Aaji (local for grandmother), you’ve started looking like our video game’s Angry Bird!” “Yeah, we should call you Angry Aaji!” Jamunabai’s grand-children teased her. Though she laughed with them at the joke, Jamunabai made a mental note to herself. ‘I must visit my eye doctor some time soon.’

Jamunabai was a 55 years old grandmother who was enjoying her second innings of life. She was an excellent cook and loved pampering her grand kids with her delicious meals. She enjoyed good health, save for her thyroid problem. Her thyroid medicine had become a part of her life for the last five years now and she didn’t mind it anymore.

Thyroid Eye Disease

Time for an Eye Check

Since the last six months, she had episodes of redness and pain in her eyes on and off. It had never been severe enough to warrant a visit to her eye doctor. However, her daughter had noticed that her eyes were looking more prominent. When her grand kids too pointed it out, she decided that it was time for an eye check up.

“My thyroid?” Jamunabai could not believe her ears when her eye doctor told her that her thyroid was causing her eyes to bulge. A little surprised, a little in disbelief, Jamunabai soon got back to her routine and forgot about her eyes. However, a week later, she started having double vision. That is when Jamunabai and her daughter got really concerned. They decided to visit Dr. Prachi Agashe.

Thyroid Eye Disease

Dr. Prachi Agashe examined Jamunabai’s eyes and explained to her about her Thyroid Eye Disease. “Thyroid Eye Disease is an auto immune disease” she explained. “It’s like your body’s defence system is mistakenly attacking the tissues of your own body instead of fighting outside germs. In this case of double mistaken identity, they are attacking the muscles of your eye because they have proteins that appear similar to those of the thyroid gland. This is causing a swelling of your eye muscles.”

Thyroid Eye Disease symptoms

Jamunabai was treated with a course of steroids to stop the swelling of the eye muscles. She responded well to the treatment and over the next six months, the episodes of pain and redness of her eyes stopped. However, the double vision continued and it affected her activities.

Back to the Doctor

This time Jamunabai wasted no time in visiting Dr. Prachi Agashe again. Dr. Prachi explained to her how her eye muscles had become tight due to the thyroid problem. Because of this tightness, both her eyes were not moving in sync. Consequently, the left and the right eye were sending in mismatched visuals which was causing the double vision. A squint surgery would adjust this tightened eye muscle and set the alignment right.

Jamunabai underwent a squint surgery in the next week. She recently visited Dr. Prachi Agashe for her follow up. Her double vision was completely gone. She was happily back to her routine of cooking up delicious meals and just enjoying this second innings of her life yet again. “Thank you Doctor, I don’t look like an Angry bird anymore!”

Thyroid Eye Disease is six times more common in women than in men1. While it is more common in those with an over active thyroid, it can also occur in people with low or normal thyroid levels. Thyroid eye disease can present with double vision like it did in Jamunabai or with a reduced depth perception of pain in the eyes. About 20% of patients with thyroid eye disease need some sort of eye surgery – either for squint like Jamunabai or for eyelids or for reducing the compression in their eye socket. 2 If you too have a thyroid disorder and are noticing vision problems, do not hesitate to visit an Eye Doctor. Dr. Prachi Agashe is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist as well as Adult Squint Specialist and Neuro Ophthalmologist. To Consult Dr. Prachi Agashe, please contact her at Agashe Hospital on 9867539883 or at