top of page


Proptosis is also known as exophthalmos, exophthalmia, proptosis and exorbitism and is an eye condition in which the patient experiences bulging of the eye anteriorly out of the orbit. There are two types of Proptosis commonly diagnosed, and these are:


  • Bilateral Exophthalmos

  • Unilateral Exophthalmos


A Medical Note! Graves’ Disease is often the cause of a Bilateral Exophthalmos, while a Unilateral Exophthalmos is often caused by an orbital tumour. Additionally, the partial and in extreme cases the complete dislocation from the orbit is possible due to trauma and the resulting swelling of the surrounding eye tissue.

Types of Exophthalmos

If Proptosis (exophthalmos) is left untreated it can lead to the failure of the eyelids to close during sleep. This can lead to Dry Eye Syndrome and damage to a patient's vision in extreme cases.


A Medical Note! This eye disorder may result in superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis due to the cornea becoming inflamed as a result of increased friction when blinking. Additionally, the cause of  the eye displacement may compress the optic nerve or ophthalmic artery and ultimately lead to blindness if not treated.

Causes of Proptosis

Below is a list of Causes of Proptosis which range from inflammatory in nature to vascular, all of which can be diagnosed and treated by an Ophthalmologist: 


  • Graves' ophthalmopathy

  • Orbital cellulitis

  • Dacryoadenitis

  • Erdheim (also called Chester disease)

  • Mucormycosis

  • Orbital pseudotumor

  • High-altitude cerebral oedema

  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis

  • Leukemias

  • Meningioma

  • Nasopharyngeal angiofibroma

  • Hand–Schüller (also known as Christian disease)

  • Hemangioma

  • Dermoid cyst

  • Carotid-cavernous fistula

  • Aortic insufficiency

  • Orbital fracture:

  • Retrobulbar haemorrhage

  • Cushing's syndrome

  • Pfeiffer syndrome

The Diagnosis of Proptosis

An Ophthalmologist can perform a Diagnosis of Proptosis by taking a measurement of the degree of exophthalmos using an exophthalmometer. If the protrusion of the globe is greater than 18 mm it is usually diagnosed as an exophthalmos/proptosis

For more information, the treatment of or the Diagnosis of Proptosis please contact Dr. Aleksic's Practice Rooms in Sea Point, Cape Town.

bottom of page