Eye diseases or eye issues are common in people with thyroid disorders. In some cases, eye disease may even be the first sign of thyroid disorder. Individuals with a thyroid disorder have several other symptoms though. However, if you have dry eyes, pain in eyes, burning sensation, itching, soreness or gritty feeling, it would be better to visit a thyroid specialist or thyroid surgeon and get checked to rule out any complicated thyroid issues.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are the two main types of thyroid disorders. Low levels of thyroid hormones are due to a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – which leads to hypothyroidism. Similarly, excess production of thyroid hormones is due to Grave’s disease – which may lead to hyperthyroidism. Problems related to eyes are common in individuals with Grave’s disease and also with Hashimoto’s disease.
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism may also be due to other causes. If a thyroid issue is due to an autoimmune disorder, then your immune system becomes active against body’s own cells. Sometimes, antibodies produced by the immune system – instead of attacking foreign microbes – bacteria and viruses and fighting infections – attack thyroid gland. In such cases, an autoimmune thyroid disorder’s effect can also be present in the eyes as well because some proteins in the eyes are similar to thyroid tissue – and therefore, immune system attacks them as well. Therefore, eyes show signs of thyroid disorder.
Symptoms of Eye Disease
Moisture helps your eyes to function efficiently and keep them healthy, but thyroid disease causes dryness in the eyes. In addition to moisture, a thyroid disorder may also steal tears from the eyes or your eyes do not make enough tears. With enough moisture and tears, regular blinking of eyes helps spread tears throughout the eyes – thus keeping them wet. Tears are a mixture of oil, mucus and water. The glands present in the eyelids produce oil -which helps in holding water on the surface of eyes.
Your eyes give bulgy appearance – this is in fact one of the prominent symptoms of Grave’s disease. In this condition, the muscles around your eyes do not work properly – owing to which the upper eyelid pull up while the lower one pulls down. Or sometimes due to build-up of some stuff around your eyes, they are pushed out from their socket. People suffering from this condition may find it difficult to close their eyes properly and therefore they remain open during sleep.
An individual is prone to thyroid disorders and complications associated with thyroid diseases if he or she has a strong family history. In a family, if one of the family members has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease and another member is experiencing dry eyes, then it is better for the other member to get checked for thyroid disorders. Early detection of thyroid disorders and treatment can help prevent eye damage and other health issues.
Ways to help keep your eyes moist
To prevent dryness and keep your eyes moist:
- Don’t sit too close to room heaters or air conditioners
- Don’t smoke.
- Relax your eyes after every hour if your job involves lots of glaring
- Take breaks to go offscreen (screen breaks)
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom at night
- Blink your eyes if you use a laptop or desktop for work
- Take dietary supplements rich in vitamin A, E and omega-3 fatty acids
- Eat Fish
- Eat colourful fruits and vegetables