Bulging Eye

The medical term for bulging eye is exophthalmia. It is defined as the propulsion of the eyeball notably from the cavity where it is located.

It is a relatively frequent disease, it occurs as a result of inadequate adaptation between the bone orbit and its content.

It cannot be considered as a disease itself since it is a pathological condition that is a symptom of various infections that may be caused by the same pathogen in some cases but not in others.

Types of bulging eye

  • Unilateral exophthalmia: When the protrusion between one eye and another is different. This protrusion is significant when it is greater than 2 mm.
  • Bilateral exophthalmia: The protrusion in both eyes is rare. It is considered when the protrusion is greater than 20 mm.


There is a great variety of causes. The most common is hyperthyroidism, particularly Graves’ disease. Those who suffer from this disease do not blink very often and their eyes seem immovable.

Other causes may be glaucoma, hemangioma, histiocytosis, leukemia, neuroblastoma, orbital or periorbital cellulitis, rhabdomyosarcoma.


It is characterized by the forward projection of the eyeball, as well as the structures adjacent to it.

In people who suffer from this condition is also observed displacement of the eyelids. In the advanced stages, it is possible that there is difficulty to close the palpebral opening, this causes the eyeball to dry out.

When the bulging eyes are due to hyperthyroidism, the patient presents eyelid retraction, which accentuates the ocular protrusion.


The ophthalmologist is in charge of measuring the degree of the ocular protrusion, also of performing a complete ophthalmological examination and eyelid and the surrounding area check-up.

A visual field (campimetry) and a color test are performed to discard compressive optic neuropathy. Also, pictures are taken to evaluate the patient’s state before and after treatment.

A Hertel test (also known as an exophthalmometry) is performed. This test allows measuring the position of both eyes.

Other diagnostic tests include CT Scan to find out the cause of the disease, also thyroid function tests, magnetic resonance, among others.


The treatment is directed to the cause that originated it. For example, when the cause is hyperthyroidism, it is necessary for the patient to go to the endocrinologist, who will indicate the appropriate treatment.

When it is a non-specific inflammatory process, it may be necessary to treat them with corticosteroids. If the cause is an infection, it must be handled with antibiotics and in cases of fracture, it is necessary to reduce it.

When it is caused by benign neoplasms, it is necessary to remove them, malignant tumors can make a surgical treatment necessary.

At Harley Street Hospital, we have the best doctors to diagnose and treat the bulging eye. Book a consultation to get a specialist´s opinion.