I remember realizing something was up during the summer of 2005. I just happened to be tired and noticed when I opened and closed my eyes that my eyelids moved in a strange fashion--my right eyelid went up faster than the left, and the left closed faster than the right. How long had it been like that, I wondered, and why couldn't I recall exactly when it started? When I looked in the mirror I didn't notice anything, and like many other symptoms didn't think a whole lot about it at first. What I actually had was a combination of upper eyelid retraction and bilateral proptosis (eye bulging, but not severe). It wasn't too noticeable throughout the summer and fall season of 2005. But it did get worse.
It wasn't until March of 2006 when I saw a photo of myself that I saw it plain as day. A visible difference between my eyes that I'd somehow missed when looking in the mirror. One was in a photo of me a friend took. The other was of a photo of me at Paula Deen's cooking school when I had my picture taken with Paula herself and her family, and one with her sons (one photo shown here--cropped to the eyes). See, can't you tell something looks kind of odd?
My right eyelid is more open, or retracted. The eyelid is smaller too now. So there it was, in plain view. I had what I'd feared most: visible changes to my eyes. Now, 18 months after diagnosis, I still have it. For most people, closing only one eye requires that they squint and squeeze it to hold it closed. I have to noticeably squint to hold my RIGHT eye shut. My LEFT eye, however, is a completely different story. See for yourself.
Can you believe as shown in this photo it takes ZERO effort to hold my left eyelid closed? No squinting, no squeezing it shut. No nothing. Complete relaxtion of the left eyelid. What's even more noticeable is how "normal" my problematic right eyelid looks in this position, as if nothing were wrong. As you can see from the other photo above, it doesn't look at all like this when both eyes are open (see photo gallery too). Upper eyelid retraction and proptosis have a pronounced affect on both eyes. I'll post much more on upper eyelid retraction, how best to cope, what to watch out for and more.
What's more, my endocrinolgist actually starting measuring my eyes. Measuring how far they were protruding. Protruding? Yes, as in bulging outward. Turns out in Graves Disease your eyes may actually begin to protrude more than usual--hence the bulging eye my doctor warned me about when she told me my diagnosis on the phone some time ago. Mine did, but at different rates for each eye.
So not only did my eyes begin to protrude more, but so, too, did the right lid retract more. Combined with the dry and gritty feeling in my eyes it was very uncomfortable. But I made the best of it. There was nothing I could do to make it go away. I was told it had to run its course. For how long? On average, the active phase of Grave's Ophthalmology lasts about 30 months. And I was just getting started....