Cataract and steroid eye drops: Cutting long... - Thyroid UK

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Cataract and steroid eye drops


Cutting long story short, my husband has Graves’ disease and had suspected TED. He has seen a well known consultant who gave him steroid drops to use for 4 weeks. He can’t say that they made much of a difference however his inflammation went down and the ophthalmologist was no longer sure whether he has got TED or not. His thyroid is now within range but the eye is still blurry and his optician suspected a cataract and referred him to the ophthalmologist. He has seen a different consultant who diagnosed him with mild cataract on one eye and said it’s possible that steroid drops caused this. Has anyone had similar experience? Is it possible that his cataract is caused by the thyroid rather than the drops? My husband is only 38.

10 Replies

Has your husband ever had an injury to his eye, been hit in the eye with anything - elbow, ball or that sort of thing can cause a cataract to develop. He seems quite young to have a cataract but that’s only my non qualified opinion.

I get the impression a steroid induced cataract has a distinctive appearance compared to ‘normal’ age related cataracts. Perhaps that’s why his consultant suggested that.

Thank you for replying. He has never had an eye injury. He has posterior subcapsular cataract which indicates that is due to the steroid drops. Another problem on top of everything else!

CSmithLadd in reply to Kari55

Remember, the main known issues that contribute to the development of cataracts (as defined by conventional medicine), are all well known issues related to thyroid dysfunction:


(Common companion of Thyroid dysfunction.)


(Common companion of Thyroid dysfunction.)


(Common companion of Thyroid dysfunction.)


(Causes depletion of nutrients needed for thyroid health.)

Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications.

Statin medicines used to reduce cholesterol.

(Common problem when doctors don't recognize the need to take more tests to rule out thyroid issues. High cholesterol and high blood pressure used to the be #1 indicators that thyroid function is suffering. They still should be to this day. The statins exacerbate thyroid issues and therefore keep the patient suffering as more thyroid hormone, and specifically the right type for the individual patient is needed -- NOT statins.

"If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), treatment may be delayed until this problem is treated. This is because having an underactive thyroid can lead to an increased cholesterol level, and treating hypothyroidism may cause your cholesterol level to decrease, without the need for statins. Statins are also more likely to cause muscle damage in people with an underactive thyroid."

Problems arise when doctors pay no heed to such warnings.

[Previous eye injury] or INFLAMMATION. (Inflammation from auto immune "diseases" such as Sjogren's Syndrome, which causes inflammation of the eye (dry eye); or being misdiagnosed with recurring conjunctivitis -- or TED, as it often appears as conjunctivitis whether actual or not. Many of the symptoms overlap on first appearance:

"Graves’ Ophthalmopathy Misdiagnosed as Relapsing Conjunctivitis"

Irini P. Chatziralli,a,* Evgenia Kanonidou,a Petros Keryttopoulos,b Dionyssia Papadopoulou,c and Leonidas Papazisisa

"The classic symptoms of the thyroid eye disease include eyelid retraction, exophthalmos, dysmotility, and diplopia [1,2,3,4,5]. Nevertheless, there are patients who present only ocular surface irritation, hyperemia and conjunctivitis [2, 3]. Although these latter findings are well established, ocular manifestations are frequently overlooked, and diagnosis of thyroid disease is usually made when the classic features manifest. In addition to this, thyroid eye disease is often misdiagnosed as allergic or relapsing conjunctivitis, as tearing and hyperemia are the predominant features [2, 5]. In such cases, the presence of eyelid retraction and restricted eye movements helps to differentiate thyroid eye disease from other causes of periorbital edema [2, 3, 5]. Moreover, thyroid function tests (FT3, FT4, and TSH) can be helpful in the diagnosis of thyroid ophthalmopathy and should be included in the routine work-up."

Note: It was my own suspicion of having conjunctivitis or something terribly wrong with my eye (which had suddenly gotten much, much worse) that got my Grave's discovered. The eye was so inflamed, my blood pressure had gone through the roof (though I'd always had low exceptionally low BP my entire life to that point). The attending physician immediately saw my neck appeared to have goiter. She was right. She said immediate attention had to go to bringing down the BP and they did that in the emergency room with intravenous medications. I was then referred to see an endocrinologist with an appointment the following day. The rest is history.

There is also a connection between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. I have both Hashimoto's antibodies and Grave's antibodies. It is not as uncommon as some might think. I began with a diagnosis of being hypothyroid when I was 20 years young. From that time forward, after being sick on Synthroid, the diagnoses got lost in the shuffle and I was never tested for it again. But the symptoms built up over the years. Forty years later I was diagnosed with a serious case of Grave's Disease. It had gone undetected for at least ten years (I thought it was a horrendous case of menopause -- yikes!).

When hyperthyroidism is not caused by excessive iodine intake (which happens and is still often treated as if from Grave's), the thyroid dysfunction is still related to a hypothyroidism condition at the same time, as some (like myself) had gone back and forth from being hypothyroid to normal and then to hyperthyroid. When it involves the thyroid, there are many possibilities.

Many doctors look at thyroid issues as being caused by one or two things and that's it. That does the patient a disservice in the long run.

Once diagnosed with thyroid problems, autoimmune disease is then blamed for everything that goes awry in one's health from that point on -- as we are told there is no cure. It's simply not true.

Autoimmune conditions can arise out of a base issue exacerbated by malnutrition and most likely, the Epstein-Barr virus. Some may have had mononucleosis many, many decades ago without ever having known it. They thought it was a bad flu. So did their doctor.

In that regard, FYI, I'm adding the website below because it illustrates just how hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can make it to the same places in systemic dysfunction -- called by any other name in auto immune disease/dysfunction.

It all feeds the medical industry as conventional medicine refuses to connect the dots.

It's time overdo that they do!


All the best to you and your husband!

I truly hope this information is also helpful to you.

Healing Hugs!!

I have been using steroid eye drops for nearly 9 years now not because of graves, which I now have, but I had discaform keratitis and once the inflammation stopped the tablets and eye drops were gradually stopped. Unfortunately it then flared up again hence 9years with eye drops. Downside it has caused a cataract in my left eye. I haven't had surgery for the cataract and manage quite well with glasses and most opticians are pretty good at getting the glasses right. I also use a eye drops to stop the eye from drying out. Has he been prescribed these? Maybe as he was only on them for such a short time it will stay mild and he will be able to cope and it won't get any worse. Hope it all works out for him.

Kari55 in reply to purple64

Thank you for your reply. Yes, I hope he can manage without having it removed as at his age it seems far too early. I’m just disappointed that the consultant- who is mean to be one of the best ones- hasn’t even warned him of this potential side effect. I was hoping this could reverse itself but after reading more it doesn’t seem like it will be possible. He is using Hyaback eye drops for dryness. It’s reassuring that you are doing well and yours isn’t progressing. I hope he can manage too but it’s just another thing and worry.

purple64 in reply to Kari55

I know how you feel I wasn't warned that this could happen. And although I was older than him when first told I was still in my mid fifty's and didn't expect it. But on the upside it hasn't got any worse although I still use steroid eye drops. I think over time he will adjust to the blurring and it will become normal, if that's the right way to say it. Good luck.

It has been known for some time that cataracts can be diminished with adequate thyroid hormone extract. In the medical journal below, that fact was evident as early as 1927. It was stated in the journal that perhaps a better understanding of the role of cholesterol in the formation of cataracts (in senile and diabetic patients at the time) would be useful to science as a possible remedy, as well as studying the metabolism of certain minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium (see more recent journal below):

Can Med Assoc J. 1927 Jun; 17(6): 651.

PMCID: PMC407302

PMID: 20316359

Thyroid Extract and Cataracts of the Eye


Characteristic Cataract Associated with Idiopathic Hypoparathyroidism

A Case Study of a 37-year-old man. Xuan Liao1,2#, Xiuqi Huang1,2#, Changjun Lan1,2*, Jianhua Li1,2 and Qingqing Tan1,2

et. al

The first part of the Discussion follows:

"Hypoparathyroid cataract is delineated as characteristic lenticular opacities caused by hypoparathyroidism as deficient PTH action or secretion, due to secondary and primary etiologies [3]. In clinical practice, secondary hypoparathyroidism was observed in approximately 75 percent of patients, while the remainder was attributed to autoimmune, genetic or idiopathic etiologies [4,5]. Thus, idiopathic hypoparathyroidism and resulting hypoparathyroid cataract are relatively rare, where the underlying etiologies and pathogenesis remain to be clarified. Metabolic disturbance, chronic hypocalcemia and hyperphosphatemia, calcitonin reduction, vitamin D insufficient can be responsible for cataract formation [6,7]."

Parathyroidism is defined as the state of decreased secretion or activity of parathyroid hormone (PTH). This leads to decreased blood levels of calcium (hypocalcemia) and increased levels of blood phosphorus (hyperphosphatemia).

If your husband took steroids for his suspected TED, I'm not sure that would be the reason for his development of cataracts.

Since he has had a history of thyroid issues, I'd be looking into metabolic disturbances as listed above possibly equating to something in the realm of Calcitonin reduction (calcium deficiency/lower levels), hyperphosphatemia (electrolyte disturbance in which there is an abnormally elevated level of phosphate in the blood. Often, calcium levels are lowered (hypocalcemia) due to precipitation of phosphate with the calcium in tissues), and then vitamin D deficiency. All lend themselves to cataract formation.

It is not a stretch to realize that hypothyroidism on its own can also replicate such mineral disturbances and therefore cause cataracts just as parathyroidism has proven to do. Hypothyroidism is known to cause cataracts. Since hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are cousins, of sorts, it is quite possible for either to produce cataracts.

Oxidative stress in hypothyroid patients and the role of antioxidant supplementation

Sumit Kumar Chakrabarti, Sujoy Ghosh,1 Sandip Banerjee,2 Satinath Mukherjee,1 and Subhankar Chowdhury1


Oxidative stress compounds hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a state of increased oxidative stress. In this study, biomarker, MDA level is high in treatment-naive primary hypothyroid patients. After treatment with L-thyroxine, the stress marker is reduced to a significant extent. MDA can be used as a useful biomarker to measure and monitor oxidative stress. The role of the addition of antioxidant in the form of selenium remained inconclusive."

However, now we know that selenium is imperative in helping us free our bodies of oxidative stress as it assists in quelling hypothyroidism. Selenium is imperative to thyroid hormone conversion of T4 to T3, the active thyroid hormone.

It all boils down to what oxidative stress and its free radicals can do to damage a body -- and what we can do about thwarting it. Proteins make up the lens of the eye and are ever subjected to damage done by free radicals. Most free radicals in the body come from consuming SUGAR! Amazing, is it not? Yet we're so addicted to sugar, we sometimes can't help ourselves. But we need to learn to at the very least, help our poor body that is failing due to the evils of consuming refined sugar.

This is good news though, as it means there are things your husband can do to possibly reverse the trend of his acquiring cataracts. If not, and if eventual cataract surgery is in the picture, it's one of the most safest surgeries there is.

In the meantime, there are natural ways to address existing problems and may prove beneficial to your husband. That, and taking adequate thyroid hormone if he is in need of it. It may not be evident by routine blood tests. He would need the entire panel of thyroid tests to be done in order to accurately access his needs.

"Recommended supplements

Take one capsule daily with food. Some research has shown that vitamin E helps to protect against cataract development. Observational studies have shown that people with a higher level of vitamin E in their diet are less likely to develop cataracts. Vitamin E is present in extra virgin olive oil, raw nuts and seeds and avocados. This vitamin is sensitive to heat and is easily destroyed if foods rich in vitamin E are cooked.

Take 200 mcg daily with food. Selenium is a very important mineral to help reduce your risk of developing cataracts because it is required in order for your body to manufacture glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful detoxifier that helps to mop up free radicals and reduce oxidative damage in your body.

Take a liver tonic that contains a high dose of the herb St Mary’s thistle, combined with the cofactors required for phase one and two detoxification in the liver. A poorly functioning liver does not cleanse and detoxify the bloodstream well. This leads to excess free radical and oxidative damage to occur throughout the body.

Take 2 tablets twice daily with meals. The antioxidants in this formula are specific for protecting the eyes against oxidative damage. Lutein, zeathanthin and lycopene are all carotenoid antioxidants found in bright yellow or orange vegetables. Bilberry is specific for helping to protect the eyes and it reduces eye strain and supports healthy vision."

Read more:

There is no doubt that cataracts occur more in those with diabetes as oxidative stress produces free radicals. Sugar is probably the #1 culprit in creating oxidative stress and the resulting free radicals.

Hope this helps!

Healing Hugs!

Kari55 in reply to CSmithLadd

Wow, amazing reply, thank you, will read it through!

Hi, I also have Graves controlled by carbimazole, and as it happens at my last visit to the opticians was told I also had a mild cataract. I am in my mid fifties and have had Graves for about 7 years. I haven't used steroids and apart from Graves no other health issues. Maybe it's to do with Graves?

Kari55 in reply to bluejeans62

Hi bluejeans62, sorry to hear that you have it as well. It’s interesting that you have never taken the steroid drops so I think it is possible that this is linked to Graves and impaired thyroid function.

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