Bulging eyes also known in medical terms as proptosis or exophthalmos is a type of medical condition wherein the eyes bulge or protrude out of the eye sockets. The protrusion of the eyeball can occur due to space-consuming lesions such as swelling of the tissues or muscles behind the eyeball that forces it to bulge out. Also Read: World Glaucoma Week: 5 Ways To Protect Vision

Under normal conditions, the white part of the eye, should not be visible above the iris. The bulging of eyeballs causes a major portion of the cornea to get exposed to air making it problematic for the body to keep it moist and lubricated. In chronic conditions, if not treated on time, the excessive protrusion of eyeballs can create a large amount of pressure on the optic nerve eventually leading to partial or complete loss of vision. Also Checkout: World Sight Day: Do These To Promote Eye Vision-Infographic

Unlike certain cases, where the condition is genetic and a person is born with this disorder, others develop this condition due to an underlying health anomaly or an injury.


The bulging of the eyeball can sometimes happen in one or both eyes and can be a resultant of a thyroid disorder, infection, injury or some other health condition which includes:

  • Glaucoma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Grave’s Disease
  • Bleeding behind the eyeball due to injury
  • Orbital Cellulitis, an infection of the surrounding eye tissue
  • Sarcoidosis, a connective tissue injury
  • Haemangioma, an accumulation of abnormal blood vessels
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Leukaemia, blood cancer
  • Neuroblastoma, cancer affecting the sympathetic nervous system
  • Metastatic tumours
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma


The most common signs and symptoms of bulging eyes include:

  • Protrusion of eyeballs
  • Eye redness
  • Eye pain
  • Excessive dryness in the eyes
  • Visible white part of the eye above the iris
  • Loss or decreased vision
  • Puffy eyelids
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Headache
  • Fever

Diagnosis And Treatment

If you experience any pain or redness in either of your eyes, get it checked by an ophthalmologist right away. The doctor usually completes the proptosis by a visual examination, followed by tests which include:

  • Imaging scans to analyse the eye socket or orbit
  • Imaging techniques like MRI, CT-scan of the brain to measure its structure
  • Blood Test to check hormonal imbalance due to thyroid malfunctioning
  • Vision Test
  • Dilated Eye Test
  • Exopthalmometer, to analyse the degree of protrusion of the eyeball
  • Slit-lamp examination to analyse the structure at the eye front

Treatment options mostly involve depending upon the age, cause and health of the person and involves prescribing anti-thyroid medications, replacement thyroid hormone if the gland is destroyed. Apart from this, the doctor may also suggest non-surgical options which include:

  • Glasses to protect from light sensitivity
  • Medicated eye drops to ease pain and inflammation
  • Antibiotics
  • Surgical procedure or chemotherapy sessions to remove a cancerous tumour in case of chronic conditions