Short-sightedness and hypothyroidism

I have been convinced for some time that my hypothyroidism started around puberty. Don't know why it hasn't occured to me before, but the other thing that happened then was the sudden deterioration of my eyesight. In the 4th year of junior school (what is now Yr 6 - so aged 10 going on 11) I started the year being able to read the blackboard from the back of the classroom. By the end of that school year, rapidly gaining weight and not wanting to have to admit that I couldn't see because to be called "four-eyes" on top of "Fatty" was a thought too much to bear, I had to get out of my seat and go to the front of the room to copy things down - or copied from an obliging friend on my table at the back.

So I just Googled and found a 1947 paper on this very subject.

Any other myopic hypothyroidies?

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37 Replies

  • Jazzw, yes, I've had glasses since age 9 or 10 but the myopia was caused by measles damage. I also refused to wear them and copied notes and assignments from my neighbours. Strangely lack of being able to see much beyond the end of my nose didn't hamper sports or drama activities.

    I suspect weight gain of 13kg in a year 6/7 years ago was the onset of Hashi's but I didn't start feeling ill until 2 or 3 years later and lost 13kg in 10 months.

  • I'm near-sighted, also started around age 10. How curious that three of us mention age 10! What happens at age 10? This page references your same study and also mentions age 10!

  • HIFL, thanks so much for that link. Once again - something that didn't occur to me for a second (why on earth didn't it???) - I'm having to take my glasses off to write and read. But my glasses are relatively new - I couldn't understand how my eyesight had deteriorated so fast. And now of course, I've realised - I've been taking thyroid hormones since just before Christmas. My eyes may not be getting worse - they may actually be getting better...😮

    How come no one's done any studies on this since 1935 and 1947? Are researchers paid not to by Specsavers?

  • Can't access the 1935 study without paying $31 (boo) but the abstract is interesting enough:


    In all hypothyroid patients metabolism is decreased resulting in a storing up within the tissues of the body an excess of energy producing substances. It seems that in such pathological conditions less food is required to complete metabolic processes than in the normal individual. As a result all patients with definite thyroid deficiency will develop obesity.

    It is generally believed that when there is a definite thyroid deficiency the mentality will be affected. Either the mind of a child will not develop normally such as is seen in cretinism, or if symptoms of hypothyroidism develop later in life mentality will become less and less acute as the disease progresses. Mentality is not always thus affected in hypothyroid states. In fact many children with definite symptoms are of normal mentality, and some are unusually bright. It is the bright alert child, with a tendency toward obesity that generally lacks thyroid.

    In all thyroid conditions the eyes of the patient show some abnormal condition. In the hyperthyroid we have the exopthalmus and in the hypothyroid child there is usually found myopia with or without astigmatism.

  • I also had a wonderful "wandering eye" = aka non-converging vision (up and down double vision) for which I had to go got hospital to do exercises (walk the lion into the cage etc) for about a year - I was 9 I think.

    Still get it now but have prisms in my lenses to counteract it.

  • You bring up a good point. Maybe becoming myopic around age 10 should trigger some thyroid tests!

  • And the 10 thing - I think it must be puberty. Surges of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, completely throwing thyroid hormone levels off balance. We know about oestrogen dominance having an effect at menopause - so it stands to reason. I'm thinking that when unopposed by oestrogen my thyroid and its feedback loop coped ok. But as soon as it had to compete, maybe not so much...?

  • Me too aged 10..copied my friend and got caught. Got glasses and my eyes have only just stabilised at 39...I have poor eyesight!

  • When I was about 9 or 10, the following happened (in no particular order, from what I can remember they all seemed to happen at once) :

    I was prescribed glasses for the first time, although I didn't wear them - I had one good eye until I was 15, then I had to wear glasses all the time. I suspect measles is implicated in my eyesight problems, although that is just my theory, nobody else's. I had astigmatism as well as short-sightedness.

    I started gaining weight very quickly.

    I developed depression.

    I developed insomnia, and I was always, always tired.

    I had lots of nightmares - dreams were rarely "ordinary".

    My teeth started to rot and I got the first of many, many fillings.

    Growing up was fun, fun, fun - not. And being a teenager... the less said about that the better.

  • HB, I also have astigmatism and scarring, optician was surprised I could wear hard contact lenses. Check the teenage, depression, insomnia and rotten teeth, always lots of dental treatment a year or two after illness/crippling bouts of depression. Thyroid tests, private and NHS, always euthyroid from teens to 30s. No weight gain until a few years ago and then off again, both of which I suspect were Hashi related. Bloods euthyroid until thyroid hoiked out.

  • Yep, ditto all of that. At my last eye test the optician said my astigmatism had changed shape (worse). When I asked why she had no answer. But that was just before I started taking thyroid meds...

  • Hmm... the more I think about it....

    I was skinny & fast 'til 13, then gradually became chubby & slow, the nic-names began... I was a late starter -I remember that day I'd had 2 back teeth out (very painful extractions) I thought I'd just swallowed too much blood!! (sorry if TMI).

    Used to copy from my friend Helen - NO-ONE went to the front of class!

    (squinted at the blackboard, no-one twigged, least of all me! ) until I started to drive (17)

    Instructor 'What does that sign mean? (road narrows)

    Me - 'what sign?' marched off to opticians - same prescription as my Dad!

    Now I take off my varifocals to read/write, what a palava! J :D

    PS I think all senses suffer...

    I cannot smell/taste, ringing in ears, blunting to fingertips, dampened feelings & emotional responses, general unawareness of surroundings....lethargy....distanced...

    could be low B12 too I suppose!

  • I certainly can't hear very well. I've had trouble, particularly in noisy places, for years. Had loads of tinnitus when I was 8 or 9 - so just before my eyesight went.

  • still we adapted well! :)

  • How intriguing. I had hearing problems at 5 before my eyesight was discovered. I remember going to the hospital to have my hearing tested. My hearing then went on to become very acute. The hearing problem episode was always put down to me being stressed because a teacher was threatening me to slap me at school. But maybe it was thyroid linked.

  • Wow, this and all the other posts are so interesting! The age of 10/11 especially.

    I officially have long-sight but in practice just have very poor all round vision and strong astigmatism. This was discovered only when I was 6 and I was described as having learned to read 'by radar' as no-one could work out how I'd done it with such poor sight. Sparerib's anecdote about what road sign made me smile as family folklore has my parents saying 'look at the bird in that tree,' and me saying 'what tree?'

    11 is significant to me as I was taken to the doctor with tiredness and weight gain, was told I was borderline hypothyroid but it did not need treatment. The doctor gave me a diet sheet that she tore off a pad on her desk.

    I didn't grow properly after that for several years but wasn't treated, despite having no reflexes!

    What is it about 11? Also, when I was 17 my hair (once fine and straight) turned into a mass of very tight frizzy curls. I was forever battling weight and was always on the chubby side til I discovered the diet that enabled me to be slim.

    I did start to look around and notice plumpish women with glasses and curly hair who often had little red spots on the backs of their arms (keratosis pilaris, I think) and I used to think - 'There is a link behind all this. The eyes are linked into this too I know it.'

    Is this pituitary related?

    JazzW's post is fascinating. I was bright at school and I think this stops anyone thinking there can be anything wrong with you. One doctor a few years ago said I could not be hypothyroid because I was not overweight and I was not a slow thinker..... They are often looking for extremes and meanwhile a lot of people struggle through under par their whole lives.

  • Isn't it sad that when I read "the diet that enabled me to be slim" I immediately wanted to know what that was?!

    I think there's a number of occasions over the years when I visited the doctor that a thyroid test might have yielded interesting results. Instead it was just assumed I was lazy and ate too much - as you say, I was bright and alert (but often low in mood). But I wasn't lazy - just permanently knackered and lacking energy. And yet I think the only time it's likely my TSH was tested was during pregnancy. At some point I might see if I can get hold of that result...

  • I found a book years ago called 'The Schwartzbein Principle' by an American doctor who was into the lower carbohydrate idea long before it hit the mainstream. Balancing protein and looking at carbohydrate content of things changed my life. I also have very little sugar. I got quite slim-ish doing this. A major stress in my life when I could hardly eat got rid of the last few pounds and I stop them going back on by cutting down further on carbs for a few days whenever I feel myself increasing within my jeans. The Schwartzbein book made me aware of carb content of things like broad beans and that all vegetables are not equal in that department.

    I eat gluten-free and don't eat grains much. For me, I think it is all about outwitting my blood sugar/insulin levels. I used to know all the science behind it but now I've forgotten most of that and just know the rules that work for me. So far.... Fingers crossed.

    My body was like a puzzle I was always trying to solve as it did not seem to react to food or exercise or anything like other people's did.

  • Thank you - yes, I've got that book. :) Maybe I'll have another look. Like most overweight middle-aged women, there's barely a diet I haven't tried! Low carb does work for me - but I find it hard to stick to. {sigh}

  • Wow. I have never met anyone else who has even heard of that book! I guess now I am a bit nearer to Paleo. Although I am not into labels and I don't eat tonnes of meat. I do eat a vast quantity of vegetables and a lot of fish. And a lot of green beans. Exciting eh? ;)

  • Isn't it? :)

    I think I own the largest collection of diet books in the world. You wouldn't think so to look at me though.

    The triumph of hope over experience, I think they call it... ;)

  • I had the same hair problem as you - hair so dry and frizzy I could only comb it properly when it was wet. In my case it started a bit earlier than yours - I was about 12 or 13. Now (with the help of the internet and a big dollop of hindsight) I believe the problem was caused by high cortisol (which I still have - or did when I last paid for some testing.)

    I also stopped growing taller aged 12. I did have an unusual very late growth spurt aged 18, and I only realised it had happened when I had to start buying bigger shoes. This prompted me to measure my height and I discovered I'd grown 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) taller. I had just thought poor student laundry habits had shrunk my trousers!

  • Curly hair caused by high cortisol? That is fascinating. I've never come across that before. I will have to start googling. If you have any links I would be very interested. My hair is still in ringlets and can only be combed when wet!


    Both of the above links mention hair related symptoms, but of course it could be that the high cortisol reduces thyroid activity, and the hair problems are caused by thyroid, not directly by high cortisol. I may have got the wrong end of the stick at some point. ;)

  • Thanks so much for the links.

  • Oh gosh. My hair also went very thin and straight at about the same time as my vision went. My mother sacked the hairdresser.

    Incidentally, my mother gained weight but didn't eat much and had no eyebrows at all. She was always tired and cross. Makes you think.

  • I've needed specs since I was 7, but think mine is also linked to Measles. But my eyes are very short sighted, with astigmatism.

  • "It is the bright alert child, with a tendency toward obesity that generally lacks thyroid" - that rings such a loud bell in my head. I've also needed glasses since an early age for short sight and astigmatism. I carried around a lot of "puppy fat" until I was about 12 and then slimmed down for a few years before going into the gradual gain cycle for most of my adult life. My teeth started to become seriously problematic at around 10/11 and I've got more fillings and crowns in my mouth than proper teeth.

    I suffered from depression and terrible mood swings in my teens and was put on tranquilisers which I stopped taking after a few days as they made me feel like hell the day after.

    The more I read on here, the more I'm thinking that my thyroid has been a problem for most of my life but because nothing caused a serious problem until about ten years ago, I've just taken the little niggles in my stride and not thought much about it.

    It really is vexing to think that a lot of the seemingly small problems that have bothered me all my life could possibly have been avoided with a little more care and attention from the medical profession.

  • "It is the bright alert child, with a tendency toward obesity that generally lacks thyroid."

    I know - that was the phrase that leapt off the page at me too!

    And I too was put on a low fat diet at 11 - which I now know made things so much worse.

  • So interesting. My mum put me on a diet at age 11 which started 15 years of eating issues. I went vegetarian and then when Rosemary Conley appeared in my early 20s became a no fat, high carb vegetarian. Not ideal.

  • My husband and daughter are both the same

  • Jazzw, Maybe the reason I became long-sighted (presbyopia?) was because I had Graves then, fairly soon after I had my sub-total thyroidectomy? Thanks for posting this info.

  • Same thing happened to me (but not the weight gain), but I was younger when I was about 7, I suddenly couldn't see the board. I had measles about 3 years earlier, so that might have started the damage.

  • What a fascinating thread this is, I was about 9 I think, when I realised I couldn't read the blackboard at school. I had my first glasses at 10, having tried a course of eye exercises first. My weight didn't really increase until I had my children, it got progressively harder to lose after each baby. Although I did find I could diet and reduce it, albeit a bit of a struggle. Since going onto Levothyroxine when my thyroid problem was diagnosed I've gained about four stone, this has proved impossible to shift! I continue to be short sighted and need glasses, my eyes are also very dry and I need to use eye drops. MariLiz

  • Fascinating stuff. My myopia became obvious around puberty and so NHS horn rimmed glasses from age 14. The accommodation of the eye (the range of distances it can see) varies with age. Toddlers and young children are usually so accommodating (eyes only that is!) that they rarely need glasses. My first optician (early 1960's) reckoned that he could tell the age of patients from their near point when using glasses corrected for normal distance viewing. He also claimed that his estimate was closer to the age that some patients told him - especially those that stayed 30 forever!

    Additional symptom, slightly off the subject of myopia though? My mother complained that both my father and I were "1 degree under" as far as basal body temperature was concerned so that was from age 5 onwards (to present day).

    As for my actual diagnosis, it languished until age 64 and was only spotted when the Dr also suspected diabetes. I'm still on the levy (75mcg) for the thyroid but manage the diabetes(T2) with diet and exercise. I'm not sure that I'd blame all my lethargy on hypothyroidism and diabetes.... I think it's a man thing (being a lazy so and so...)

  • Interesting! I've often wondered whether I was Hypo before becoming hyper in 2000.


    Weight gain or "puppy fat" as family liked to call it and Short sightedness at aged 10, started year 6 ( our junior year 4) with thick specs.

    Very bright child though, continued to gain weight til 16 then spent 2 years working and living on alcohol and weed....I don't recommend that diet!

    Pregnant 3 times between 18-22 and weight gain chronic, mental state after my 3rd child psychotic.

    Insomnia, dry skin, eyes got worse, wide! 3 stone overweight but walked a lot with the kids. Awful red pimples on arms, legs, had these for 20 years now...still can't get rid.

    Hyper in 2000, 8 month lead up to diagnosis had severe bout of gastroenteritis, car crash then planning a wedding, I was the bride but didnt want to be!!!! Lost over 5 stone before confirm hyper.

    Both my grandmother s had thyroid issues, all my paternal aunts and their daughters have pituitary gland issues, tumours and/or fibriods.

    Currently Hypo, back on T3, doing ok ish....getting there as they say.

    Oh but I take my glasses off to read now, got varifocals, they don't work, makes the text fuzzy, read without :-)


  • I think my hypothyroidism also started around puberty. Was a pretty chubby kid at around 11. Started being unreasonably tired at 14, and after a year of going to my GP often, they finally offered to test my thyroid. Didn't grow any more after 14. Didn't get my period til I was almost 17, probably due to under active thyroid. Where my eyesight is concerned, it has been deteriorating for years. When I had a short trial of UK T3, in the first couple days my vision was so significantly better. I could suddenly read easily off a TV that I would have squinted at for years previously. Was long sighted as a kid, but am short sighted with astigmatism now. Am hoping to try T3 again, at a higher dose, but it's so expensive in the UK and the Tiromel that I bought online gives me headaches, eyeache, and more... :(

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