Background: Orbital signs and symptoms occur in approximately one half of children with Graves disease, but the symptoms are usually minor and limited to the eyelids. Prominent proptosis is uncommon in children with this disorder.
Methods: Review of eight children with prominent proptosis associated with thyroid eye disease. Four patients were treated at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the other four at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.
Results: At initial presentation, children ranged in age from 3 to 16 years. There were five girls and three boys. Seven of eight children had hyperthyroidism at ophthalmic presentation. Four patients had restrictive myopathy, and all of the seven patients who underwent neuroimaging had extraocular muscle enlargement. Five patients were treated with lubrication. Two underwent orbital fat decompression. One patient had thyroid eye disease and myasthenia gravis.
Conclusions: Proptosis in childhood thyroid eye disease usually is associated with a hyperthyroid state. The proptosis may be dramatic, but corneal exposure and restrictive myopathy are seen in only some of the patients. Neuroimaging shows enlarged extraocular muscles. Most children with this complication can be treated conservatively with topical lubrication, but orbital fat decompression may be considered in patients with more advanced conditions.