Thyroid and Dry Eyes: Understanding the Link and Effective Management

Dinesh Patel
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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thyroid and dry eyes

Thyroid, a small gland located in the front of the neck, is important in regulating hormone production in the body. 

Thyroid disorders, like Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism, can lead to various symptoms, including Dry eyes. 

Eye discomfort and irritation is the common symptoms of Dry eyes. 

It occurs when tears evaporate too quickly or are not produced sufficiently.

This article explores the connection between Thyroid and Dry eyes

It sheds light on the types of thyroid disorders, risk factors, and treatments.

Researchers have observed a significant association between Thyroid and Dry eyes, although the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood. 

People with Thyroid disorders, such as Graves’ disease (Hyperthyroidism) and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism), are at an increased risk of experiencing dry eye symptoms. 

Fact:
Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder and is caused by the overproduction of thyroid hormones, specifically thyroxine (T4), leading to Hyperthyroidism.

This link may be due to several factors:

Corneal changes

Thyroid diseases can affect the cornea, the clear layer that protects the eye. 

This can reduce the sensitivity in the cornea and fewer nerve fibers within it, contributing to dryness.

Tear production

Thyroid diseases can result in reduced tear production and rapid evaporation, both common culprits of Dry eyes.

Eye bulging

In some cases, thyroid disorders can cause the eyes to bulge, leading to a higher likelihood of experiencing dry eye symptoms.

Impact on tear film

People with thyroid disorders may experience alterations in their tear film’s composition and protein profile. 

These changes can disturb the balance of the tear film, leading to tear instability, shorter tear break-up time, and ultimately, Dry eyes.

Warning:
Poor tear film quality can cause infections, leading to corneal ulcers. It can bring severe pain and can leave lasting visual impairment. You should protect your eyes by going for regular eye check-ups.

Inflammation

Emerging evidence suggests that immune-mediated inflammation involving T lymphocytes plays a pivotal role in developing dry eye syndrome. 

The first signs of Dry eyes in Thyroid

Eye painSource: Prostock-Studio_From_Getty_Images
Eye pain (symptom)

Thyroid Eye Disease, often referred to as TED, can manifest through various eye-related symptoms. 

Some of the common signs and symptoms include:

  • Eyelid swelling
  • Eye pain
  • Excessive tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)

Types of Thyroid diseases

There are two primary categories of thyroid disorders, each with its own set of symptoms:

Hyperthyroidism

This condition happens when an excess of thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland. 

Symptoms may include heart palpitations, anxiety, weight loss, and Dry eyes. 

Graves’ disease commonly causes Hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient thyroid hormones. 

Symptoms may encompass fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, and Dry eyes. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can cause of Hypothyroidism.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing dry eye syndrome in individuals with thyroid disorders requires a comprehensive evaluation. 

Some common tests and assessments include:

  • Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI): A questionnaire that helps assess the severity of dry eye symptoms
  • Phenol Red Thread (PRT) Test: Measures tear quantity by evaluating wetting of a thread when placed on the eye
  • Tear Break-Up Time (TBUT) Test: Determines tear film stability. It does so by measuring the time it takes for dark spots to appear on the pre-corneal tear film after blinking
  • Tear Ferning (TF) Test: Evaluates the quality of tears by analyzing tear ferning patterns under a microscope

Treatments for Thyroid and Dry eyes

Dry eyes associated with Thyroid require specific treatment measures. Managing Dry eyes in Thyroid typically involves a multi-pronged approach:

Primary treatment

Making some changes to your environment can help with the Dry eyes:

  • Avoid direct airflow or fans
  • Use indoor humidifiers to increase moisture levels
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors to shield the eyes from wind and dust
  • Reduce screen time and take frequent breaks.

Medications

After these changes, secondary treatment includes medications:

  • Use lubricating eye drops and ointments to relieve dryness
  • Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed
  • Oral antibiotics might be necessary in some cases
  • Nighttime ointment 

Protective measures

Dry eyes can be managed by also protecting your eyes:

  • Use moisture goggles
  • Therapeutic contact lenses may provide relief
  • Intense pulsed light therapy and amniotic membrane grafting can be considered for severe cases
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Home remedies for managing Thyroid and Dry eyes

smoking is a lifestyle factor that can cause diseaseSource: Kubra_Cavus_from_Getty_Images
Avoid smoking

In addition to medical treatments, individuals can take steps to alleviate Dry eyes at home:

  • Employ an air filter to remove potential eye irritants from the environment
  • Wear sunglasses for light sensitivity
  • Apply cool compresses to reduce irritation and swelling
  • Quitting smoking can alleviate the symptoms
  • Exercise regularly to reduce stress
  • Nutritional supplements like evening primrose oil and fish oils can support ocular heal

Conclusion

The connection between Thyroid and Dry eyes is well-established, with individuals suffering from Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism being more prone to experiencing dry eyes. 

This relationship is attributed to corneal changes, altered tear production, eye bulging, and disruptions in tear film composition. 

Thyroid disorders come in various forms, including Hyperthyroidism (linked to Graves’ disease) and Hypothyroidism (associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis).

Treatment strategies for Dry eyes encompass environmental adjustments, medications, and protective measures. 

Simple changes in the living environment, lubricating eye drops, anti-inflammatory drugs, and protective eyewear can help manage Dry eyes. 

However, advanced therapies like intense pulsed light therapy may be considered for severe cases.

By addressing the root causes and adopting personalized treatment plans, individuals can alleviate dry eye symptoms and improve their overall eye health.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your Thyroid is affecting your eyes?

Thyroid-related eye problems can lead to noticeable symptoms in your eyes. Common signs include bulging eyes (exophthalmos), redness, irritation, eye discomfort, double vision, and, in severe cases, vision changes. If you experience any eye-related symptoms alongside thyroid issues, consult a healthcare professional for an evaluation.

Are Dry eyes always a sign of thyroid problems?

Dry eyes can have various causes, including environmental factors, age, and other medical conditions. While thyroid problems can contribute to Dry eyes, it’s essential to consider multiple factors when diagnosing the cause.

Is thyroid-related eye disease the same as dry eye syndrome?

No, they are different conditions. Thyroid-related eye disease is primarily associated with thyroid disorders and may involve inflammation, bulging eyes, and other specific symptoms. Dry eye syndrome is a separate condition involving insufficient tear production or poor tear quality.

Can Hyperthyroidism cause dry eyes?

Yes, Hyperthyroidism can cause Dry eyes. Thyroid hormone imbalances can disrupt the composition of the tear film and reduce tear production. This disruption can lead to dry eye symptoms, such as eye dryness, irritation, and discomfort. If you have Hyperthyroidism and experience dry eye symptoms, seek medical advice for appropriate management.

Citations:
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