Researchers investigate the benefits of supplements for thyroid eye disease

11 January 19

written by:

Press Office

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Miss Tessa Fayers consulting a patient

Fight for Sight and the Thyroid Eye Disease Charitable Trust are funding research to establish the benefits of using a type of oral supplement for UK patients with thyroid eye disease, which affects around 300,000 people in the UK.

Researchers from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will recruit 110 patients with the condition who will be randomly selected to receive selenium tablets or a placebo. Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential for healthy thyroid function. Researchers will examine improvements to the patients’ condition and quality of life.

A previous European study has shown that taking selenium supplements at the early stage of the disease can lead to a reduction in the symptoms associated with the condition. However, the results need further investigation since the original study did not measure selenium levels in the patients before they took the supplements.

This new study will provide valuable evidence as to whether there are any benefits or risks associated with taking selenium supplements.

Dr Neil Ebenezer, Director of Research, Policy and Innovation at Fight for Sight, said: “We need to establish whether there is a clear benefit from taking this oral supplement. The results could have a direct impact on the lives of patients living with thyroid eye disease and have significant implications on how this condition can be managed in the future.”

Rebecca Ford, Chair of the Thyroid Eye Disease Charitable Trust Committee, said: “TEDct is delighted to be supporting this research looking at selenium levels in UK patients with thyroid eye disease. We hope this study will provide more information on the usefulness of selenium supplementation in this condition, and help medical professionals to give evidence-based advice that will help people affected by this disease make informed decisions about whether selenium will be helpful for them.”

Miss Tessa Fayers from Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust, said: “I am delighted that we have received funding from Fight for Sight and Thyroid Eye Disease Charitable trust so that we can do this important research. The current UK guidelines are to recommend selenium supplementation to all patients with mild to moderate TED, when we do not know if it will help them or indeed if it could be causing them harm since the original study data on which these guidelines are based may not be translatable to our population.”

She added: “Moreover patients have to pay for these supplements themselves (they are not available on prescription) so patients could be wasting their money. This research should provide us with an answer to whether selenium should be recommended to our TED patients and how much benefit they might expect to get.”

Thyroid eye disease is an auto-immune condition that is estimated to affect 300,000 people in the UK. The condition is caused by damage to fatty tissue and muscles behind the eyes which leads to inflammation. This can lead to double vision, loss of vision and severe disfigurement of the eyes which can significantly reduce the quality of life for people living with the disease.

Selenium levels in the blood vary depending on the geographical region the patient lives in, which affects the amount in their diet. Researchers will establish the selenium levels in the blood of a sample of TED patients in the UK population. They will also determine if any potential benefits for thyroid eye disease can be attributed to the change of selenium blood levels.

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