Finding the Right Doctor for Thyroid Eye Disease: Hindsight is 20/20

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored collaboration with Health Grades.

Finding the right doctor can be a stressful process, especially when experiencing scary and vulnerable symptoms like those related to thyroid eye disease (TED). But what happens when the doctor you trusted during this vulnerable and emotional time turns out not to be the right fit?

After I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism, I started to develop the telltale symptoms of thyroid eye disease. My eyes looked oddly red, they became very watery, and worst of all, the muscles behind my eyes had started to swell up, pushing my eyes forward.

My endocrinologist had asked me if I wanted a referral to an eye doctor who specialized in TED, but I declined. I already had an ophthalmologist I trusted, who was widely recognized as an excellent doctor and seemed knowledgeable about numerous conditions. I immediately made an appointment with him. After an examination, I explained my struggles with Graves’ disease, and he agreed that perhaps my eyes had changed a bit. However, he said there was nothing to do at that moment but monitor them. At the time there was no indication that this condition was out of his wheelhouse…

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One thought on “Finding the Right Doctor for Thyroid Eye Disease: Hindsight is 20/20

  1. Dear Jessica,

    Thank you for your well-written recommendation! I have recently experienced a somewhat, less serious, situation with my long-time ophthalmologist at Vanderbilt. As a child, long before modern, miracle, medical interventions, I was diagnosed with a lazy eye. For years, actually a lifetime!, my brain has only used my good eye to see using the lazy eye only for bioptic purposes. In 2008, I had to have emergency surgery on my good eye because I had developed narrow angle glaucoma. The lag time in getting a diagnosis and medical treatment left my good eye damaged as well. Since then, my ophthalmologist has had to add prisms to my glasses so that I don’t have double vision. (Any time I asked about treatment for my lazy eye, I was told that nothing could be done.) As my vision continued to worsen, the prisms became thicker and thicker. In 2019, I had to have multiple lenses made because the prisms were causing triple vision of lit objects. My vision continued to worsen and in 2021, I had to make the decision to no longer drive at night.

    Then, I just happened upon an article detailing a presentation made by a pediatric ophthalmologist from Vanderbilt at a national symposium detailing a surgical procedure used on children to “fix” a lazy eye. Long story short, I made an appointment with this pediatric ophthalmologist, he did surgery in December and I no longer need prisms in my glasses and I can see better than I have in years!

    I’m left shaking my head, wondering why in the world my other ophthalmologist never offered this procedure to me. I had been told for years that absolutely nothing could be done. Why was I the one to accidentally read an article? Why didn’t my doctor not know about this surgery? I was losing my independence. The pediatric ophthalmologist said that I had reached the point where prisms were going to no longer be an option and I would have been left with double vision – thus no longer able to drive, etc.

    We place so much trust in our physicians. Yet, with so much specialization in the medical field, we tend to go to doctors who specialize in one thing which they do very well. But, because what they do day in and day out is just this one thing, they don’t have the foggiest notion of what is going on in parallel fields of medicine. This is what happened with me and this is most certainly what happened to you!

    Jessica, I’m so glad that you finally received the medical attention that you so desperately needed. Certainly, if an intervention had been made earlier in the progression of your disease, surgeries and recovery would have been so much easier and much less risky. But what we must be thankful to God for is that we were able to connect with such talented and knowledgeable surgeons who could restore our vision.

    Jessica, I’m so glad that you wrote your article. I’m certain that there are way too many other patients whose physicians are under-informed and under-qualified to perform the surgeries needed to restore them to health. Sometimes, a person just needs that little nudge that encourages them to not just accept the status quo but instead to take the steps necessary in order to advocate for better medical treatment.

    Thank you for all that you do!

    Polly Moore



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