Pronunciation key

( ek′sof-thalmi-ə )
( eks-of-thalmiå )



[Mod. L. < Gr. exophthalmos with prominent eyes; ex-, out + ophthalmos, an eye].

  1. Abnormal prominence or protrusion of the eyeball caused by disease, usually hyperthyroidism which results in a marked stare. Occasionally the condition is caused by an inflammations, fluid swelling and infection or tumor behind the eye which pushes it forward. Overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) is a common cause of exophthalmos. Some cases of congenital enlargement of the eyeball may simulate exophthalmos. In most cases, this condition is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the fatty tissues that cushion the eyeball in its socket or orbit. Graves' disease, a type of hyperthyroidism may be the cause of the swelling of the orbital tissue. However, it may also follow the spread of infection from the paranasal sinuses or the teeth. Some less frequent cause for exophthalmos include hemorrhaging or aneurysm of the internal carotid artery and congenital glaucoma or severe myopia.

Thryoid gland

Syn. exophthalmos, exophthalmus. Also called Proptosis.

Exophthalmic Goiter

Pathol. In medicine, a form of goiter marked by abnormal protrusion of the eyeballs, strained appearance of the face, weight loss, sweating, tremors, enlarged thyroid gland, anemia, tachycardia (rapid pulse and palpitation of the heart), intense nervous excitability and abnormally quick metabolism. This disease is caused by the excessive production of thyroid hormone (Hyperthyroidism) and is also known as Basedow's disease or Graves' disease. See hyperthyroidism. It is the opposite of hypothyroidism.

Treatments may include

  • Suppression of hormone production with medication.
  • Destruction of thyroid tissue with radioactive iodine.
  • Surgical removal of part of the thyroid gland.

    An extreme form of hyperthyroidism with a sudden onset is called thyroid storm. If left untreated the condition is usually fatal but with proper medical attention, symptoms can be managed.


  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition) ©1955
  • The New World Family Encyclopedia ©1955
  • Webster's Improved Dictionary and Everyday Encyclopedia ©1956
  • Encyclopedia International ©1966 (Grolier Inc.)
  • Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, Comprehensive International Edition ©1976
  • Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health ©1978
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia ©1984
  • The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition ©1985
  • The Human Body in Health and Disease ©2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins
  • Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, F.A. Davis Co. ©2001
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