If both of your eyes appear to bulge from their sockets, causing a pop-eyed appearance, you may already be aware that you have a thyroid problem known as Graves’ disease, a kind of hyperthyroidism. If only one eye is bulging, it may be due to a tumor behind the eye (see “Bulging, One Eye” below for more information). Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine, a hormone that helps to regulate growth in the body; the condition often results in weight loss and nervousness, and it primarily affects women in midlife. Graves’ disease occurs when an excessively large amount of the hormone is produced; this may cause some parts of the body to grow, including the tissue behind the eyes, causing the eyes to bulge out. In addition to bulging eyes, your eyes may also water frequently and be extrasensitive to light, and your eyesight may be blurry and distorted.

If your eyes start to bulge and you are not aware that you have a thyroid problem, your doctor will probably suggest the possibility when she takes a look at your eyes. Though bulging eyes by themselves are not harmful to your health, the underlying thyroid condition can decrease your quality of life. Fortunately, however, if you begin to treat Graves’ disease when you first notice that your eyes begin to bulge, both your eye condition and your thyroid condition will clear up completely.


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