Bulging Eyes

What Causes Bulging Eyes?

Bulging eyes can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose bulging eyes, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "bulging eyes" as a symptom.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Brain Tumor
  • Choroidal Hemangioma
  • Histiocytosis X
  • Orbital Cellulitis
  • Mercury Toxicity

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
low TSH
greatly reduced arm function
slight moodiness
constant fatigue
very great unexplained weight gain
fatigue after slight exertion
high iodine consumption
poor tolerance of heat
brain cancer
being easily irritated
chronic mouth soreness/sores
being an unsocial person
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of bulging eyes:
Cause Probability Status
Brain Tumor 98% Confirm
Orbital Cellulitis 29% Unlikely
Histiocytosis X 20% Unlikely
Hyperthyroidism 2% Ruled out
Choroidal Hemangioma 2% Ruled out
Rhabdomyosarcoma 1% Ruled out
Mercury Toxicity 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate eye problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you noticed, or have others commented, that your eyes seem to be bulging out or protruding?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Yes, due to past hyperthyroidism now resolved
→ Yes, due to current hyperthyroidism
→ Yes, but I don't know why
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate eyes bulge from past hyperthyroidism, bulging eyes from hyperthyroidism or bulging eyes, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Brain Tumor

Meningiomas – benign tumors that originate in the covering (meninges) around the brain – can cause different symptoms, depending on where they grow.  They may cause weakness or numbness, seizures, an impaired sense of smell, bulging eyes, and changes in vision.  In elderly people, they may cause memory loss and difficulty in thinking, similar to that found with Alzheimer's disease.

Histiocytosis X

Rarely, damage to the pituitary gland causes bulging eyes (exophthalmos).

Mercury Toxicity (Amalgam Illness)

Marked proptosis (bug eyes), or eye changes typical of hyperthyroidism have been associated with mercury toxicity.

Orbital Cellulitis

Forward displacement of the eye is one symptom of Orbital cellulitis.


A rhabdomyosarcoma near the eye(s) may cause bulging.

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