To assess the prevalence of the association between thyroid autoimmune dysfunction in patients with and without Graves orbitopathy and non-thyroid autoimmune diseases.
Retrospective review of the medical records of 254 consecutive patients with thyroid autoimmune disease with (n = 150) and without (n = 104) orbitopathy who had been followed at the same institution by ophthalmologists and general clinicians. All medical records contained information on any systemic diseases of the patients and a detailed description of their eye examinations. The mean follow-up period was 5.25 ± 4.67 years.
Non-thyroid autoimmune diseases were detected in 24 (9.4%) patients. Type 1 diabetes was the most prevalent non-thyroid autoimmune disease diagnosed in the patients without orbitopathy (7 patients, 6.7%). For the patients with orbitopathy, vitiligo was the most prevalent condition, affecting 6 patients (4%). Other diseases including systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, myasthenia gravis, Sjögren syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis were seen in a few patients in both groups. The time intervals between the diagnoses of the orbitopathy and the non-thyroid autoimmune disease were highly variable, ranging from none (concomitance of the 2 conditions) to decades.
The present data show that several non-thyroid autoimmune diseases may be associated with thyroid autoimmune dysfunction. Patients with Graves disease without orbitopathy are likely to develop polyglandular syndrome due to the occurrence of type 1 diabetes. Patients with Graves orbitopathy should be screened for other autoimmune conditions, especially vitiligo.