Graves' ophthalmopathy

N Engl J Med. 2010 Feb 25;362(8):726-38. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra0905750.


Graves’ ophthalmopathy, also called Graves’ orbitopathy, is a potentially sight-threatening ocular disease that has puzzled physicians and scientists for nearly two centuries. Generally occurring in patients with hyperthyroidism or a history of hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease, Graves’ ophthalmopathy is also known as thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy or thyroid eye disease, because it sometimes occurs in patients with euthyroid or hypothyroid chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. The condition has an annual adjusted incidence rate of 16 women and 3 men per 100,000 population.

This review explores the perplexing relationship between Graves’ ophthalmopathy, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid dermopathy, the associated skin condition. I examine clinical features, histologic findings, and laboratory studies, with an emphasis on mechanisms that could be targeted in the development of new treatments for this debilitating disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antithyroid Agents / pharmacology
  • Antithyroid Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Autoimmunity / drug effects
  • Graves Ophthalmopathy / diagnosis
  • Graves Ophthalmopathy / drug therapy
  • Graves Ophthalmopathy / etiology*
  • Graves Ophthalmopathy / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / complications
  • Skin Diseases / etiology
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune


  • Antithyroid Agents