Eyesight and Thyroid ...any link?

I have never had any problems with my eyesight but since having RAI last year I have been having difficulties with my eyes focusing. This is particularly problematic when driving, using the computer or watching television however I am noticing it getting increasingly worse and I am experiencing a seasick type feeling. The optician seems baffled by this and, although he wouldn't usually prescribe glasses based on my eye test he has given me glasses based on the symptoms. These do help but my symptoms are getting worse & I am now feeling the seasick disorientated feeling even when doing normal everyday tasks.

Could this be anything to do with my thyroid? I am going back to see my optician in a week as I am really unhappy that things are getting worse so any information I could be armed with would be amazing.

I am currently on 100 mcg Levo along with Colecalciferol, B-12 and Vitamin C.

Thank you in advance.

17 Replies

  • Just to clarify, I cannot focus and refocus - I am a Teacher and looking from a whiteboard to a book for example makes me feel seasick. I can physically feel my eyes having to work to refocus. This can't be normal?

  • Hi emma,

    I can only add that I suffer from the same problems as you. I also find I am extremely light sensitive. If I am traveling along a tree lined road in the sunshine, it makes me feel as if I have a migraine coming on.

    When I renewed my last pair of specs, the optician tried three different pairs of lenses. He was glad to see the back of me. I still have trouble focusing sometimes. I also feel just slightly off balance at times, particularly if I should turn quickly. I do think this is a fairly common problem with Thyroid disorders.

  • Oh this is exactly my experience! Only started recently went for eye test young optician very condescending treated me like uneducated simpleton and wouldn't listen! Said I needed glasses for long and short vision I couldn't believe it. 6 months ago had 20/20 according to same place tho different optician. When I said are you sure to long vision problems he flashed few lenses in front of the letters again and admitted possibly not but definitely needed reading glasses he decided what would be best two days later I picked them up did the test with them to check they were ok and couldn't see a damn thing!!! Totally out of focus with glasses on. Manager and sales person started to fuss incredulous and disbelieving that they could be wrong perhaps it was just that I preferred to hold the book more than a foot from my eyes? They asked. - doesn't everybody? Really, do people read with the book 6 inches from their nose? When that is the only option isn't that when you know you need glasses and as I pointed out even at 6 inches it"s blurry.

    One day or even within the same day I can read the back of food packet that others need magnifying glasses for with no assistance and even in poor light the next minute I can"t even focus enough to see the hole in a needle or the t.v easily and bright lights are often a problem more often than not! I thought it might be seizure related as a side effect of one of my meds or type two diabetes (which I was diagnosed with relatively recently) because apparently it is common for higher blood sugar to give temporary blurring like looking through a mist but this is just fractal not misted more like looking through a wrong prescription lens.

    If this occurs with thyroid as well as I recently had my levothyroxine reduced and have dry skin a regular morning and evening temp of 36.0 degrees maybe I need to get help again!

    Sorry I'm a bit stressy today ......bear with! Lol :)

  • Most certainly there are connections.

    I believe that hypothyroidism affects:

    The tear film;

    The muscles of the iris;

    The focussing muscles;

    The muscles that control eye movement;

    The presence of floaters;

    The ability of the retina to sense light;

    The optic nerve;

    The visual processing in the brain;

    The ability of the brain to control focussing and eye movement;

    The ability of the brain to manage information coming from the eyes;

    The ability of the brain to take visual information and merge it with non-visual.

    There, that's a start!

    In my experience, hypothyroidism significantly affects eyesight. Since being treated and achieving a satisfactory thyroid hormone level, my eyesight has improved very noticeably.

    At one point I needed special "monitor" glasses at work for computer screens. But when I got them, I couldn't cope with the other vision issues.

    I strongly suspect that your thyroid hormone levels are too low.


  • Does it also effect eye pressure?

  • There have been several threads concerning glaucoma over the years. I was fully tested for that by an ophthalmologist as I was continuing to get what I subjectively felt was pressure in my eyeball. It wasn't - and I was well aware that feeling and reality can be very different in these things.

    For whatever reason, I have had a few times where my eyes have felt like that, but they have always resolved, sometimes after an increase in levothyroxine has had its chance to take effect.

  • Hi, I suffer from eye problems too. This is what prompted me to keep going to the doctors on the first place before I was diagnosed. After 6 months they did blood tests. I use to have complete black spots and as it was getting better it would look like I was growing through a force field. They said it was migraine but now I've got my thyroxine to a decent level I don't have the same problems. My eyes are still v light sensitive though. Hope you manage to get an improvement.

  • I too had this after RAI sept 2011

    April 2012 really bad eye problems don't wait to see optician go to your doctor and tell him straight away

    I got double vision and really bulging eyes - then diagnosed with thyroid eye disease its horrible and can last a very long time you must see endo or doc as soon as poss

    I was neglected after radio iodine don't let this happen to you - I had to give up work

    Please please please act on this

    Sorry to sound so pushy

    I am on 300 mcg levothyroxine and only just started 20 mcg 3T alongside and every day I'm waiting for change my life has been on hold for 2 years

    You don't just get this eye problem from being hyper - it happens when your thyroid hormone replacement isn't being looked after aswell

    The sooner u can get help for this the better - get referred to the eye clinic

    I hope you get the support you need

    Kindest regards

    Julia x

  • Thank you for this reply Julia. 9 months on and I am still battling with this issue :( My eyes are getting progressively worse - I now have difficulty focusing, light sensitivity, double vision, blurred vision and increasingly painful headaches. I am seeing the eye specialist at the hospital for the third time tomorrow but they can't find anything wrong at all. Last time they tried to pass me off with a film tint to put over text when reading. What can I do?? My GP is uninterested as the hospital SHOULD be dealing with this. So scared it's going to become even worse. :(

  • Are you on an adequate dose of thyroid hormone?

    If, as seems at least feasible and maybe even likely,your issues are thyroid hormone-related, then that is the way to tackle them.

    Do you have any remnant thyroid function? If not, 100mcg might be too low a dose.

    Make sure you know where you are in terms of test results.


  • My most recent results were taken last month and show that I am 'within range'

    TSH 0.37 (0.35-4.94)

    FT4 15.9 (9.0-19.1)

    My FT3 hasn't been checked since March 2013 and at that point it was 'below range'

    FT3 3.04 (3.6-6.15)

    Could any of this pinpoint what's going wrong?

    I'm not sure if I have any remnant thyroid function. Feel rather left out in the dark :( My Endos last advice was to lower my dose of Levo though but I declined this and she kept me on 100mcg. Not sure what to do for the best now.

  • Hi

    Can you explain what you mean by "You don't just get this eye problem from being hyper - it happens when your thyroid hormone replacement isn't being looked after aswell" ?

    Did your eyes improve?


  • Not everyone gets Thyroid Eye Disease and yet again its a symptom much ignored by doctors!! I still get blurred vision sometimes when I wake up and I have been on NDT for several years, I'm totally convinced that because I was prescribed Levo for years and it wasn't working I have been left with symptoms that will never completely go away. I sympathise though, I couldn't read a book for months and that was torture for me!!

  • I also suffer eye problems. Had the radio active iodine over 30 years ago and eyes have got worse and worse over the years.

    Recent visit to optician showed marked deterioration, not enough fluid being produced, slow muscles etc etc. Went back to optician as altjough the reading lens are good can;t see a blessed thing with the ones for walking around and watching tv etc. I now know I have cataracts that have started earky and are dense and he suggested another visit to GO's to recheck blood sugar etc etc.

    Pretty fed up as the lenses alome were over £250 plus frames on top and for something I can;t even use. Had an op a couple of weeks ago and now the vision problems are even worse so not happy.

  • All of you who are suffering eye problems - did you tell the optician that you have had RAI or have Thyroid disease? It is something which needs to be monitored by a specialist in the field. I mentioned that I had had a TT for Graves' many years ago and she immediately referred me ot a Thyroid Eye Specialist. He did antibody tests and confirmed to me that I still have elevated Graves' antibodies.

    A normal GP would not consider this, but any optician worth his/her salt would.

    My own GP did not even know what Graves' Antibodies were! he told me it was a figment of my imagination, that Graves' is just an old-fashioned name for an overactive thyroid. Thank goodness I am now in good hands, I am being monitored every four months.

    Marie XX

  • This is very interesting Marie. Did you have the physical signs of thyroid eye disease? I think the reason that nobody is taking me seriously is because I do not have the expected 'bulging eyes'. I don't want to wait so long that this develops.

    I have seen two opticians since I had RAI and both times told them that I had Graves' and RAI. A thyroid eye specialist has never been mentioned. Would it be worth mentioning whilst at the hospital today?

    Are there any links for more info on these elevated antibodies after treatment? Everything that I can find is pre-treatment.

    Emma xx

  • Saw a specialist on Tuesday and have officially been diagnosed with thyroid eye disease so feeling very down in the dumps and anxious at the moment. Thank you all for your advice as I wouldn't have come this far without your support.

    I have been prescribed Selenium to take to try to tackle my eye problems before Steroids are turned to. I also have to take Vit D and 100mcg Levothyroxine daily and was just wondering when would be best to take the Selenium? At the moment I take Levo before bed and Vit D with my lunch. Could the Selenium also be taken with lunch or would breakfast time be better to stagger all of them? I can't keep up with so many tablets!!!

    Thank you again for your support.

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