A hospital in Copenhagen has stopped using radiation therapy as first choice treatment for a condition caused by overactive thyroid, after it temporarily blinded one woman (Lancet, 1998; 351: 725).
Her vision was reduced to seeing only hand movements after being given the radiation for Graves’ ophthalmopathy (where the eyes bulge as a reaction to an overactive thyroid). Her sight was not properly restored for six months.
The therapy, known as retrobulbar irradiation, was thought to be safe and has become the treatment of first choice in most hospitals. Eye damage has been reported only in cases where the wrong dose was given.