Using an imaging technique to study blood vessels on the white of eye in thyroid eye disease

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight / Thyroid Eye Disease Charitable Trust Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Miss Swan Kang
  • Institute: Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Region: London
  • Start date: January 2018
  • End Date: September 2021
  • Priority: Early detection
  • Eye Category: Ocular inflammatory


Thyroid eye disease is an inflammatory disease that can affect the muscles and fat around the eye. The condition causes the eyes to bulge forward and the eyelids to become swollen. The blood vessels on the white of the eye become larger and the eyes appear bloodshot. These changes not only cause the appearance of the eyes to change but also can threaten the vision. When the eye muscles and fat around the optic nerve behind the eye get larger, it can compress the optic nerve, which delivers the visual signals to the brain, and this may result in worsening, or in severe cases, loss of vision.

In three pilot studies, researchers will test an imaging technique called optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT angiography) to study blood vessels on the white of the eye in thyroid eye disease. The first study will measure and compare the difference in the blood vessels between normal and thyroid eye disease population. In the second study, researchers will investigate whether the technique can detect changes in blood vessels after orbital decompression surgery, which is performed to increase the space around the eye and optic nerve. In the third study, researchers will look into whether the scan can be used to detect the eyes with severe thyroid eye disease by comparing the scan results with the currently used clinical activity scoring system.

The research will enable early detection and identification of the thyroid eye disease patients, who are at risk of developing visual loss. It will allow early intervention and prevention of sight loss.