To determine the clinical features and course of thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) in a large sample of Chinese patients.
We retrospectively identified a cohort of consecutive patients diagnosed with TAO at the West China Hospital from October 1, 2009 to October 1, 2019. We analysed clinical data from 3620 patients, including demographic data, clinical manifestations, ophthalmology examinations, and prognosis.
TAO most frequently occurred with hyperthyroidism, with most patients developing TAO after thyroid disease (TD). The TAO phenotype was asymmetric in 375 (50.7%) euthyroid patients, 25 (27.8%) hypothyroid patients, and 314 (12.1%) hyperthyroid patients (p < 0.0001). The most frequent symptom was lid lag and the most commonly involved extraocular muscle was the inferior rectus. Severity assessment (NOSPECS score) and clinical activity assessment (Clinical Activity Scores, CAS) differed significantly between male and female patients (P < 0.000). The majority (88.8%) of patients had clinically inactive TAO, and only 3.2% of cases were sight-threatening. Regarding the clinical process, 75.5% of patients had an active phase time less than 12 months and 2.1% showed complete remission.
TAO most commonly develops in females and is closely related to hyperthyroidism. Euthyroid TAO often has an asymmetric clinical phenotype. CAS combined with magnetic resonance imaging can improve the detection of TAO. NOSPECS scores should be slightly refined regarding the criteria for corneal involvement. Clinical management of TAO should be individualized according to CAS or NOSPECS assessments and a multidisciplinary approach is paramount. A minority of patients showed complete remission.