Who Treats Thyroid Eye Disease?
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2021 | Last updated: May 2023
Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a rare disease of progressive inflammation and damage to the tissues around your eyes. Because TED is a rare condition, seeing the right doctor is important.1,2
An ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in eyes and vision. These doctors can diagnose and treat advanced conditions, and are able to perform surgery.3
There are about 20,000 ophthalmologists in the United States, though most are not specially trained in treating TED. Seeing a TED specialist will help you get the diagnosis and treatment you need to better manage your disease.2
If you have problems with your thyroid, you will most likely see an endocrinologist. This doctor specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hormone-related problems. If you have thyroid problems with TED, your endocrinologist will work with your primary doctor and TED specialist to make sure you get the best care and treatment.4,5
TED specialists are ophthalmologists with special training and experience treating and managing TED. Each specialists have different titles, but all have common experience in managing and treating TED.2
Neuro-ophthalmologists are ophthalmologists who specialize in vision and eye problems related to the brain and nervous system. They look at how the eyes interact with the brain, nervous system, and muscles.2,6
Surgeons are doctors who specialize in surgical procedures. Some people with TED need surgery, while others do not. TED surgeons are ophthalmologists who specialize in certain types of surgeries. TED surgeons include:2,7-9
- Oculoplastic surgeons, who specialize in plastic and reconstructive surgery of the eye and surrounding tissues. Because TED directly impacts the eyes and tissue around the eyes, this type of surgeon may have the most experience in treating TED.
- Strabismus surgeons, who specialize in treating misaligned (“crossed”) eyes. Crossed eyes are common in TED, and this specialist can help.
- Retina specialists, who specialize in the retina. The retina is the thin layer of nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye. This tissue processes light and converts it to nerve signals for the brain. Retina specialists treat vision problems, which are common in those with TED.
- Cornea specialists, who specialize in the cornea. The cornea is the dome-shaped, clear cover on the front of the eye. These doctors treat damage and conditions specific to this region of the eye. Damage to the cornea can occur due to TED.
What do specialists do?
TED specialists assess and treat TED symptoms by:2
- Performing baseline eye exams
- Ordering or performing advanced testing to diagnose, treat, and manage your symptoms
- Creating a treatment plan, which might include medicines and surgery
- Keep in touch with your primary doctor and endocrine specialist, as needed
How to find a specialist
Finding a TED specialist often starts with the eye doctor you are currently seeing. A referral to a TED specialist may need to be approved through your insurance. Seeing a specialist is important to the overall outcome of your disease.