Exophthalmos is the protrusion of one or both eyeballs. It is caused by the swelling of soft tissue that surrounds the eye socket in the eyeball is located. The eyeball moves forward, exposing an abnormally large part of the front part of the eyeball, which is dry and irritated. Eye movement is limited because the swollen tissue affects the external ocular muscles, resulting in a double image. In difficult cases the eye is so moved forward so much that blood supply is limited and the vision becomes seriously blurred; the lids can not be closed, corneal ulcers can develop. The most common cause of this swelling is a disorder in the production of thyroid gland hormones.
Exophthalmos can be caused by a tumor that grows behind the eyeball or tissue inflammation in the eyeball. The cause of the disorder is revealed by blood tests, X-rays and eye examination.
If it is discovered that the thyroid gland is the root cause of the condition, its disorder will be treated. However, such treatment may not suppress exophthalmos so, in that case, corticosteroids may be given to the patient or the surgeon will sew part of the lids to protect them from lateral corneal ulcers. In severe cases, surgery will be performed to reduce the pressure behind the eyeball and thus alleviate the problems.