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:
  • Brain Tumor
  • Mercury Toxicity
  • Orbital Cellulitis
  • Choroidal Hemangioma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Histiocytosis X

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:
severe vision disturbances
hyperthyroidism in family members
unexplained missed periods
very great unexplained weight loss
metallic taste in mouth
recent "don't care" attitude
much past amalgam filling removal
moderate unexplained weight gain
history of hyperthyroidism
unsound sleep
inability to work under pressure
poor balance
... 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
Choroidal Hemangioma 90% Confirm
Hyperthyroidism 28% Unlikely
Mercury Toxicity 28% Unlikely
Orbital Cellulitis 2% Ruled out
Histiocytosis X 0% Ruled out
Brain Tumor 0% Ruled out
Rhabdomyosarcoma 0% 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).

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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