Diseases Home > How Graves' Disease Affects the Eyes and Skin

Eye Symptoms

Graves' disease can also affect the eyes. This is known as Graves' ophthalmopathy. Some signs a person might have include:
  • Swelling around the eyes or within the whites of the eyes
  • Bulging of the eyes
  • Excess tearing
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Loss of vision (occasionally).
Eye symptoms appear before thyroid symptoms in about 20 percent of people. They appear at the same time as hyperthyroidism in about 40 percent, six months after diagnosis in about 20 percent, and after treatment in about 20 percent.

Graves' Disease Symptoms Affecting the Skin

Graves' disease can also cause a condition called pretibial myxedema. This occurs in no more than 5 percent of people with Graves' disease, but it is considered part of the classic "triad of Graves' disease" (the other two being hyperthyroidism and ophthalmopathy).
With pretibial myxedema, the skin becomes thick, scaly, and swollen, often with an orange-peel appearance. It may itch and be painful.
These changes are typically seen over the lower legs, either on the shins or the top of the foot. The hands, fingers, arms, elbows, or face might be affected in rare cases.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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