A pair of blinking eyes are in the middle of a circle, which contains wiggly question marks.

My Eyes Have Stabilized; What Did I Do Right?

I was someone with thyroid eye disease (TED), asking, "What did I do wrong to make myself get this disease?" My eyes have finally stabilized, but I still ask myself, "What did I do right?"

I will never know the answer to this, but I can share with you what I did to manage the symptoms of TED and my overall health as I stumbled through this journey.

I will admit there were periods of despair and even hopelessness in which I begrudgingly allowed myself to indulge. Then, I would pick myself up with a pep talk and refer to my worn-out action plan.

Managing the symptoms of thyroid eye disease

Eye drops

The first thing on my list was to find relief by treating my symptoms. We all know the feeling of tired, achy eyes. I could be seen at home on the couch, in stores shopping, visiting friends and family, and even out on my kayak, putting teardrops in my weary eyes. By nighttime, I depended on gel drops, and if that didn't help enough, I used the eye ointment for overnight relief.

Sunglasses

I learned early into being diagnosed with thyroid eye disease to protect my eyes. Outside on a sunny day, I wore sunglasses. Outside on a cloudy day, I still needed the sunglasses. Outside in the wind and inside with a ceiling fan on, I wore wrap-around sunglasses to protect my eyes from drying out. When out shopping, I wore sunglasses to protect myself from feeling the effects of the bright lights.

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These procedures relieved symptoms, but did they aid my eyes in ultimately stabilizing? Probably not.

Monitoring thyroid levels

We know that Graves' disease and thyroid eye disease are 2 separate diseases that seem to go hand in hand. But, I was told that keeping my thyroid levels as normal as possible would help control the TED. That was not an easy task for me.

It has taken 3 years of methimazole and monthly labs to get my TSH, T3, and T4 levels at a normal range. The TSI has been stubborn and is above normal. For that reason, I am still managing it with methimazole. Instead of the monthly lab work, we have relaxed to bi-monthly labs. I feel that closely monitoring these levels and adjusting medication as needed have aided my eyes' health. To what extent, I will never know.

Experimenting with diet and nutrition

None of my doctors ever suggested adjusting my diet to aid in bringing me closer to remission for either Graves' disease or thyroid eye disease. Yet, as I got into my third year of the active phase of TED, I decided to search for a diet that might help.

Anti-inflammatory diet

I could not go another year without a new plan to try to put this disease behind me. I started following an anti-inflammatory diet. To me, this made sense because everything about my eyes seemed inflamed—the muscles in the orbit of the eyes, the muscles in my eyelids, the tissue above and below my eyes, the fatty tissue in the orbit of my eyes—everything!  

If nothing else, I hoped this diet would help me fight off other illnesses I was constantly getting at the time. My immune system seemed to be nonexistent. I had nothing to lose, and this action plan gave me hope when my glass felt empty.

I added almonds, pecans, walnuts, apples, and bananas to my snack list. Sadly, I eliminated chocolate ice cream (I had to tell myself it was for the greater good)!  I'm not a red meat fan, so eating the white meat was easy. I even started making oatmeal in the morning and adding flax seed to it.

When making chicken in the crockpot, I continue to add bone broth. Mixing baking soda and water is supposed to be an anti-inflammatory drink, but no thanks. I prefer lemon water. I have made a lot of salmon and tuna to the point of boredom, but the lean proteins continue to be my choice. Taco dinners are a fun and easy meal in a pinch, so I keep ground turkey in the freezer instead of ground beef.

Restoring our hope with TED

This diet is a healthier lifestyle for me, but is it the reason my eyes stabilized? Was it a combination of everything I did as a whole? Did the disease finally just burn itself out?

I wish I had a definitive answer to share with you. I do know that while fighting TED, we often feel worn out and hopeless. So maybe doing whatever we need to restore our hope is the solution.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ThyroidEyeDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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