How My Life Changed After Graves’ Disease Treatment

A senior woman looks out the window

Did you know that an autoimmune disorder can lead to permanent vision loss? Nearly six percent of those who suffer from Graves’ Ophthalmopathy lose their vision entirely due to damage to the eye’s optic nerve. 

Graves’ Disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland and is often accompanied by Graves’ Ophthalmopathy, which can cause debilitating eye-related symptoms. In previous years, a preventative treatment for Graves’ Disease was nonexistent. As treatment options improve, it is more important than ever to discuss the risks and symptoms associated with Graves’ Ophthalmopathy, also known as Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). 

An anonymous patient of Florida Eye Specialists shares how seeking treatment for their Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Eye Disease changed their life. 

How Did You Know You Had Thyroid Eye Disease? 

“I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease early in my pre-teen years. My hyperactive thyroid caused many issues for my health growing up, including a change in my appearance. Upon learning I had Thyroid Eye Disease, everything began to make more sense.”

“As a child, my thyroid disorder made me very skinny, and while entering into my teen years I began to notice that my eyes seemed to be bulging. My eyelids also began retracting and I experienced some difficulty closing my eyes. I noticed that my eyes were often red and that my eyelids would sometimes swell. It was both physically and emotionally painful.”

What Was Your Experience Like Living With Graves’ Disease?

“As a child and an adult, I was embarrassed by my appearance. It was very difficult to cope with this drastic change in my facial appearance. My eyes were uncomfortable and often in pain, and my confidence was plummeting. I began taking medication for my hyperactive thyroid, which helped me gain some weight back, but did not help with my eyeball and eyelid problems.”

“I remember becoming less social throughout my teenage and early adulthood years because of my condition. It’s hard to feel confident in yourself when your body changes drastically. I felt like I had no control over my appearance. My physical appearance wasn’t the only problem. Had I left my Thyroid Eye Disease untreated, there was a possibility that I could have lost my vision. With this condition, early detection and treatment is really important. I don’t think many people know how badly this condition can affect a person’s self-esteem and quality of life.” 

How Did TED Treatment Restore Your Confidence?

“It can be hard for others to imagine the physical and emotional toll this condition can have on your body and mind. Everybody wants to feel happy with the way they look, and that was a luxury I didn’t have for the majority of my life. As an adult, I had come to accept myself and my condition, but I still wanted to address this problem. A friend of mine had been going to Florida Eye Specialists for years and recommended I schedule a consultation with Dr. Kostick. This was the day everything changed for the better.”

“Dr. Kostick helped me understand my condition even better and assured me that he could help with my case. He gave me a run-down of three common traditional surgical treatments [orbital decompression, strabismus surgery, and eyelid retraction repair]. I wasn’t super excited about undergoing surgery. He understood my worries and informed me about Tepezza. Tepezza is a breakthrough medical therapy that is FDA-approved to treat Thyroid Eye Disease. Every three weeks, I was given a dose of Tepezza [intravenously, over the course of eight treatments]. Tepezza stops the progression of Thyroid Eye Disease by preventing the circulating Graves’ Disease antibodies from attaching to your eye socket tissue. I wish this option had been available sooner! It has truly changed my life.”

“Dr. Kostick helped me regain my confidence and prevented any further damage to my vision. I can’t thank him enough. I am finally free from my eye discomfort and am actively gaining my confidence back each day. Thank you, Dr. Kostick!” 

Seeking Graves’ Disease Treatment? Meet Our Oculoplastics Team

Our oculoplastic surgeons perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the tissue and bone surrounding the eye including the eyelids, eyebrows, cheeks, conjunctiva and lacrimal (tear) system.

Procedures are performed by our board-certified ophthalmologists, Dr. David Kostick and Dr. Ernst Nicolitz.

Dr. David A. Kostick, M.D., F.A.C.S., is a board-certified ophthalmologist and fellow of the American College of Surgeons where he trained in Oculoplastic, Orbital, and Lacrimal Surgery. Dr. Kostick performs surgery of the eyelids, eye socket, and lacrimal system including cosmetic and reconstructive procedures.

Dr. Ernst Nicolitz, M.D., F.A.C.S., is the founder and chief surgeon at Nicolitz Eye Consultants. He has been a board-certified ophthalmologist for over 30 years and is a fellowship-trained specialist in Oculoplastic Surgery. 

In addition to our team of highly experienced oculoplastic surgeons, we also have trained oculoplastic and cosmetic consultants who will walk you through all your treatment options from start to finish. Our compassionate and experienced consultants are there to explain what your options are and walk with you every step of the way.

About Florida Eye Specialists

Florida Eye Specialists is one of the largest multi-specialty ophthalmology private practices in Northeast Florida, with offices in Fernandina Beach, Gate Parkway/295, Mandarin, Northside, Ponte Vedra Beach, Riverside, San Marco, Southpoint, and St. Augustine. Schedule an appointment at one of our nine locations.