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  • Writer's pictureAmy Patel

Let's Talk TED and Tepezza (Thyroid Eye Disease)

Thyroid eye disease is an autoimmune condition commonly associated with Grave's disease.

It is so important for patients who are suffering from thyroid eye disease to find a physician who understands the complexity of the disease and the psychosocial burden it carries.

At the very least, I know my patients need an advocate who understands how challenging it is to have systemic thyroid imbalance coupled with a change in how their eyes work and how they look. Among the common symptoms are dry eye, proptosis (bulging of the eyes), periorbital edema (puffiness around the eyes), eye redness and irritation, orbital pain or headaches (often described as an ice pick or throbbing sensation behind the eye ball itself), and pain with eye movements.

Traditionally, the thyroid eye disease was managed with a "watch and wait" pattern until the disease course stabilized and thyroid levels were stable. Then, patients would undergo a multiple surgeries fraught with risks before they could resume some normalcy to their lives. Often, the risks and burden of surgery would be too great for a patient to endure or a physician to offer so patients would be told directly or indirectly to live with the disease burden and its long-term sequelae including a change in the natural appearance.

However, since the introduction and FDA approval of Tepezza, an immunologic that can be administered with an IV infusion every 3 weeks, the landscape of management has changed. Patients now have an immediate option of relief that has a minimal side effect profile and is relatively well-tolerated. Patients receive an infusion of the drug that takes approximately 1 hour every 3 weeks for 8 total treatments. After completion of treatment, most patients experience a reduction in the bulging and other symptoms associated with thyroid eye disease. I think of this medication as another tool in the tool kit that once offered so little for my TED patients. It is empowering for patients to have options and I think Tepezza does just that.

I have managed many thyroid eye disease patients and know all to well how hard the disease process can be. I also participated in the clinical trials of Tepezza as a co-investigator and now have patients in my practice receiving the medication. Like with all medications, it is not suitable for everyone, but it is certainly such a great option for those that meet criteria. If you have thyroid eye disease, I would love to see you in my practice and help guide you through the healing process.

The physician-patient bond in managing the complications and symptoms of thyroid eye disease is so important. It is a debilitating disease that can cause cosmetic disfigurement and affect quality of life due to its effects on visual function. I empathize with the challenges my patients face and look forward to treating more TED patients in the future.

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