Prospective and controlled study of ophthalmopathy after radioiodine therapy for Graves' hyperthyroidism

Thyroid. 1998 Jan;8(1):49-52. doi: 10.1089/thy.1998.8.49.


The effects of radioiodine (131I) therapy for hyperthyroidism on the ocular process of Graves' disease is controversial. In order to evaluate the outcome of ophthalmopathy after radioiodine therapy for thyrotoxicosis we studied prospectively 30 Graves' hyperthyroid patients, 22 submitted to radioiodine (131I) treatment (group A) and 8 treated with antithyroid drugs (group B). All patients were evaluated by clinical ophthalmologic examination, and ocular proptosis (OP) was measured with both a Hertel exophthalmometer (HE) and computed tomography (CT) before and 4 to 7 months after therapy. No statistical difference was obtained between pre- and post-treatment OP measurements in each eye in either group, and we did not observe worsening in the ophthalmopathy of patients treated with drugs or radioiodine. After therapy, there was an improvement in the clinical signs of ophthalmopathy in 59% of group A and in 37.5% of group B patients. We found a significant correlation between OP measured by HE and by CT. CT findings showed an increase in orbital fat and/or muscle thickening in all patients at baseline, proving to be a useful procedure for ophthalmologic diagnosis in doubtful cases. No patient in either group developed hypothyroidism or elevated TSH levels during the study period; this may explain our good results in the evolution of Graves' ophthalmopathy after treatment with 131I and antithyroid drugs. Euthyroidism seems to be an important factor in the outcome of ophthalmopathy after therapy, whatever the mode of treatment chosen to achieve it.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exophthalmos / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Graves Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Graves Disease / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / adverse effects*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmology / instrumentation
  • Orbit / diagnostic imaging
  • Orbit / pathology
  • Orbit / radiation effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Iodine Radioisotopes