ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A team of cyclists is making Ann Arbor one of its stops on a cross-country trip to raise awareness of Graves’ disease. To underline the need for greater understanding of the condition, on June 9, theUniversity of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center will host its third patient education workshop on Graves’ disease and related thyroid disorders.
Nearly 10 million people in the United States suffer from Graves’ disease and those who suffer from it know its wrath. It can severely damage tissues around the eye, which can result in disfigurement, bulging eyes, double vision and, in some cases, blindness. It’s a disease that is 5 to 10 times more likely to occur in women than in men and it usually occurs in middle age.
“The symptoms of Graves’ Disease can be painful and confusing,” says Raymond S. Douglas, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Kellogg Eye Center’s Thyroid Eye Clinic. “When patients have a better understanding of the disease, they can more easily manage both the physical and emotional effects of these thyroid disorders.”
The workshop will feature talks about managing a patient’s thyroid and strategies for improving life with eye disease. Discussion and a question-and-answer session will follow.
Following the workshop, there will be a free patient appreciation picnic at Riverside Park — located behind Kellogg — with special guests, the Greater Than Graves’ Cross-Country Cyclists.
The team is participating in the Greater Than Graves’ Cycling Event, a coast-to-coast journey—from Boston to San Francisco—to raise donations and awareness for the Graves’ disease and Thyroid Foundation. One of the riders, Elias McQuade has a very personal connection to the event. His sister has had to deal with the challenges of Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is a disorder of the immune system. It is not known why the lymphocytes—white blood cells involved in the body's protective defenses—begin to attack the body's own tissues. When lymphocytes attack the thyroid gland, it responds by producing too much thyroid hormone. This causes symptoms of nervousness, rapid heartbeat, tremor, weight-loss, and other features of hyperthyroidism. The muscles around the eye are particularly susceptible to the attack of lymphocytes, and the result is inflammation and swelling, causing redness and pain; puffiness around the eyes; bulging of the eyes; and dry eye and irritation, which occurs when the eyelids cannot close completely over the bulging eyes.
The workshop is free (registration required) and open to all individuals with Graves’ disease and related thyroid disorders, as well as their family members and caregivers. It will start at 10 a.m. in the Oliphant-Marshall Auditorium and the Cure Room. The picnic will begin at 1 p.m. To register, please contact Jodi Douglas at 310-709-8383 or annarborGDF@yahoo.com , or Lonna Kilpatrick at 734-763-0482 or
To follow the Greater Than Graves’ cyclists as they make their way across the U.S., or to donate, visit www.greaterthangraves.com