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Women Are 5 Times More Likely to Get Thyroid Eye Disease Than Men: See MDs’ Best Treatment Options

Eating just one selenium-rich Brazil nut a day may help decrease swelling and ease TED symptoms

If you’re one of the one million Americans diagnosed with thyroid eye disease this year, odds are you’re plagued by irritated eyes, puffiness, light sensitivity or other bothers. The good news? There are thyroid eye disease treatment options that can provide relief from the comfort of home. Here, our expert’s top five remedies.

Understanding thyroid eye disease

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is an autoimmune condition that occurs when your immune system attacks the tissue around your eyes, explains Raymond Douglas, MD, PhD, a Beverly Hills-based ophthalmologist and a professor of surgery in the division of ophthalmology at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. This causes inflammation and tissue expansion. The result: You’ll notice symptoms like bags under the eyes, red or dry eyes, swelling or puffiness, bulging eyes, light sensitivity or a gritty feeling in your eyes.

The condition is more common in women than men, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. And hormone swings during menopause can potentially trigger TED, says Michael Kazim, MD, an ophthalmologist and clinical professor of ophthalmology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Harkness Eye Institute in New York City.

Thyroid eye disease treatment: 5 home fixes

There are some home treatment remedies that can help with certain symptoms of thyroid eye disease. Here’s what our experts suggest:

1. Munch on Brazil nuts

Close-up of a woman's hand holding Brazil nuts, which can help serve as a home treatment for thyroid eye disease
Brenda Rocha Blossom

Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, which research has found to be helpful for thyroid eye disease. “In one European clinical trial, people who had early thyroid eye disease were given selenium supplements, which was shown to decrease swelling and improve mild cases of TED,” says Dr. Douglas.

The recommended daily amount of selenium for an adult is 55 mcg. One Brazil nut contains between 68 and 91 mcg. “You can eat a small amount of Brazil nuts and you’ve had your selenium for the week,” notes Dr. Douglas.

Other good sources of selenium include salmon, tuna, poultry, eggs, leafy greens, mushrooms, whole grain breads and cereals.

2. Try artificial tears

Using artificial tear eye drops can help make you feel more comfortable by easing dry, irritated eyes. Using preservative-free artificial tears eye drops 4 to 6 times a day can provide relief, says Dr. Douglas. One product he suggests to help hydrate eyes: Systane Complete PF Lubricant Eye Drops.

3. Grab an extra pillow

Propping your head up in bed can relieve swelling and pressure on the eyes. “Elevating your head while sleeping uses gravity to pull fluid from the eye and eyelids,” says Andrew G. Lee, MD, neuro-ophthalmologist and chair of the department of ophthalmology at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX.

Tip: If using an extra pillow doesn’t feel quite right, you can also place a pillow or a rolled towel under your mattress to keep your head at a slight angle.

4. Don a pair of shades

mature woman wearing sunglasses to treat thyroid eye disease
FG Trade

A simple treatment option for easing symptoms of thyroid eye disease: slipping on a pair of shades. “Sunglasses provide a barrier to irritation from wind and seasonal allergies, and reduce the sunlight exposure for people who have TED-related light sensitivity,” says Dr. Kazim. He suggests a pair of wraparound sunglasses for even better protection. “With wraparounds, there’s less wind or any particles that can irritate the eyes.”

5. Sleep with an eye mask

Thyroid eye disease symptoms such as dry eyes and puffy eyelids can make sleeping difficult. In fact, thyroid eye disease can even prevent some people from being able to close their eyes at night. Luckily, wearing an eye mask can help keep eyes closed and protected, says Dr. Douglas.

There are lots of options when it comes to choosing a sleep mask. One made of a breathable, soft material such as silk or cotton is a safe bet, especially for people with sensitive skin. One to try: Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask.

Thyroid eye disease treatment: Prescription options

If self-care remedies aren’t providing enough relief, or if your symptoms are more severe, your doctor can recommend a more intensive thyroid eye disease treatment. Options can include:

  • A steroidal anti-inflammatory. Meds such as prednisone can reduce eye pain, redness, swelling and double vision, says Dr. Lee. Typically, your doctor will administer steroids intravenously once a week for 4 to 6 weeks. But oral steroids can also be given, he adds.
  • Tepezza. The only FDA-approved drug to treat TED, Tepezza works by blocking a switch-like receptor molecule that causes tissue behind the eye to swell. It’s administered over the course of eight IV infusions and helps reduce eye bulging, redness, pain, double vision and swelling.
  • Surgery. Depending on the situation, surgery may be performed to relieve any excessive swelling behind the eye, treat any compression on the optic nerve or repair and realign eye muscles. Your doctor may also suggest eyelid surgery to improve eyelid function and appearance.

For more ways to keep your eyes healthy:

These Dry Eye Syndrome Self-Care Tips Relieve Burning and Redness at Home — No Rx Needed

Eye Doctors Say These 5 Conjunctivitis Self-Care Tips Speed Healing From Pink Eye

Eye Docs Share the Fastest Way to Heal a Swollen Eyelid and the Warning Sign To Watch Out For

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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