Understanding Common Vision Problems Associated With Hypothyroidism

Posted on: 10 February 2016

When your thyroid hormone levels are too high due to an underactive thyroid, you have a condition known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid itself affects many aspects of the body, including your metabolism and your temperature regulation. What many people are surprised to discover is that it can also affect your eyes. Understanding how hypothyroidism can affect your eyes may help you to address any side effects in their early stages. Here are a few things to discuss with your optometrist.

Drooping Eyelids

One common eye-related problem that plagues many with hypothyroidism is drooping of the eyelids. It usually happens because your body's thyroid hormones contribute to stimulating your nervous system. When it isn't happening properly, your eyelids may sag due to poor nervous system control.

Eye Swelling

Many people with hypothyroidism experience swelling in and around their eyes and face on a regular basis. This swelling is usually a result of protein accumulating under the lower skin layers. Once your body's thyroid hormone levels are balanced out properly, you'll find that the protein buildup will dissipate, reducing the swelling around your eyes and potentially easing any vision disturbances.

Dry, Bulging Eyes

Many cases of hypothyroidism are caused by autoimmune diseases. The antithyroid antibodies created by those autoimmune diseases can sometimes attack the soft tissue of your eye. When this happens, it can lead to dryness in your eyes. In some cases, it can even make your eyes seem to bulge due to inflammation of the eye tissue. Over time, that inflammation will push your eyes forward a little bit.

Optical Nerve Damage

When your body is struggling with anti-thyroid antibodies, sometimes it can also lead to damage of the optic nerve. That nerve is the primary communication path between your eye and your brain, which can have serious lasting effects. Sometimes, that nerve damage can lead to vision loss in the affected eye. In fact, some thyroid conditions are detected as a result of optic nerve problems and vision loss during an optometrist's visit. Your eye doctor will identify the inflammation and may suggest that you visit your primary care doctor.

It is important to remember that not all vision problems are directly related to your eye health itself. Sometimes, as in the case of thyroid conditions, those vision problems may simply be a warning of other issues in the body. Talk with your optometrist today about any vision concerns you might have.

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