Graves' disease is characterized by the production of TSH-R stimulating antibodies. They cause sustained hyperthyroidism and the characteristic firm, diffuse goitre found in most patients. Graves' disease is the common cause of hyperthyroidism, accounting for 60-80% of cases.
In Europe, the prevalence is around 1% in women aged 35-60 years, about 5-10 times lower than that in men. Over 90% of patients with Graves' disease have thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy. Clinically obvious disease is apparent in around 50% of patients, causing lid lag and retraction and nerve compression, with diminishing frequencies; severe congestive ophthalmopathy affects fewer than 5% of patients.