What Does Bulging Eyes (Exophthalmos) Indicate?
The medical term for bulging eyes is exophthalmos. It is not a condition in itself, but a symptom of other conditions.
What Are Symptoms of Bulging Eyes (Exophthalmos)?
Bulging eyes (exophthalmos) are a symptom of other conditions. Depending on the cause, symptoms that may accompany bulging eyes may include:
- Eye pain
- Changes in visual clarity or sharpness
- Double vision
- Decreased fields of vision
- Temporary vision loss or blackout periods
- Foreign body sensation
- Dry, gritty eyes
- Eye redness
- Puffy eyes
- Eye inflammation and swelling
- Sensitivity to light (photosensitivity)
What Causes Bulging Eyes (Exophthalmos)?
Causes of bulging eyes (exophthalmos) can include:
- Thyroid orbitopathy (Graves’ disease), the most common cause
- Orbital inflammatory syndrome (orbital pseudotumor, benign orbital inflammation)
- Erdheim-Chester disease
- Cancerous (both benign and malignant)
- Pfeiffer syndrome
- Apert syndrome
- Crouzon syndrome
- Carpenter syndrome
How Is Bulging Eyes (Exophthalmos) Diagnosed?
The cause of bulging eyes (exophthalmos) is diagnosed with a history and physical exam, and the following tests:
What Is the Treatment for Bulging Eyes (Exophthalmos)?
Treatment for bulging eyes (exophthalmos) depends on the cause and is aimed at reversing the problem and minimizing damage to the eye.
- Teprotumumab (Tepezza) is used to treat thyroid eye disease in adults
- Ophthalmic lubricants are used to prevent complications from dry eyes
- Artificial tears (Celluvisc, Murine, Refresh, Tears Naturale)
- Polyethylene glycol 400/propylene glycol ophthalmic (Systane Balance, Systane Ultra, Tears Naturale Free, Hypo Tears, Murine Tears)
- Carboxymethylcellulose ophthalmic (Refresh Optive Gel Drops, TheraTears Nighttime Dry Eye Therapy)
- Hypromellose/carboxymethylcellulose ophthalmic (Genteal Lubricant Eye Drops, Moderate-to-Severe)
- Sunglasses to ease light sensitivity
- Stop smoking
- Radiotherapy for the active stage of thyroid eye disease
- Chemotherapy for cancerous causes
- Antibiotics for infectious causes
- Surgery in severe cases
- Orbital decompression surgery, in which a small amount of bone is removed from 1 or both eye sockets
- Eyelid surgery to improve the position, closure, or appearance of the eyelids
- Eye muscle surgery to bring the eyes into alignment and reduce double vision