Thyroid UK
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Vision problems? I am HYPO-thyroid

My vision has deteriorated so badly that I finally got checked by the "fancy" opthamologists. They think I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, but very a-typical. All my night vision is gone. I totalled my car last year when it got to be dusk; I rear-ended a lady. (we were both OK) Does anyone have any info at all about RP? No one has even suggested that it might be due to being Hypo-thyroid. And it isn't visible when examining my retina.

Everything I read says I am going blind. There is even a higher incidence of this in Scandinavians, and I am 100% Norwegian.

(sigh).....any thoughts?

Thanks, Nina the Viking Librarian, who is having a harder and harder time reading

15 Replies

I did a search on PubMed:

And clearly the question has been asked and come up positive. There is an association.

For example:

and others.

If you did not notice it, I responded in this question yesterday:

I would also point out that the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A is impaired in people who are hypothyroid. I rarely say much about this because supplementing with vitamin A is a minefield. Too much is a very bad thing. If you rely on beta-carotene then this can be significant. (Some of us get significant quantities of vitamin A from, for example, liver or cod liver oil.)

Night vision is all too frequently impaired in hypothyroid people. That, along with lessened tolerance of bright lights such as oncoming headlamps, makes driving in the dark especially bad. But many improve considerably by appropriate treatment.

For myself, both have improved very noticeably, and yet at my worst my TSH was only slightly over-range. And I think it took around two years for me to turn round having driven a fair distance at night and actually say how not one single oncoming headlamp had been "too bright".

All the best



Rod, thank you so much for the time you spent gathering this info for me. I have now spent many hours going further down the rabbit trails you pointed to.

Best..... Nina


Nina, I know nothing about Retinitis Pigmentosa, but I can tell you that my own experience with thyroid and it's effect on eyesight was dramatic.

Pre-diagnosis of thyroid disfunction, I went from near enough 20/20 vision to having rapidly deteriorating eyesight that meant I needed to carry and wear two pairs of glasses all the time. I had a pair for reading and close vision, plus a pair for distance. I became less and less tolerant of bright lights, and dreaded having to do any night driving due to being unable to cope with oncoming headlights.

In order to do my shopping in a supermarket, I had to continually swap between the two pairs of glasses. I needed the distance to be able to see where I was going, and the readers to see the price tickets on the shelves and the print on the products. It was the same as a passenger in the car when I couldn't read the road signs and then look down at a map on my lap without having to change glasses (this was pre affordable in-car navigation aids!). I struggled to see who was coming towards me when walking down the corridors in the college where I worked as a teacher. I couldn't even walk down the street without swapping glasses.... distance ones to see where I was heading, but close-ups to see the edge of the kerb when needing to cross a road! It was a totally ridiculous state of affairs. My optician said varifocals were the answer, but after a few days trial I returned them for a refund because they proved to be less than useless, adding to the vertigo and balance problems I was by then also experiencing.

I felt sure that the rate my vision was deteriorating was abnormal. It felt as if I would be blind within a very few years. People around me (and the optician) brushed aside my concerns, saying that eyesight deterioration happens to everyone as middle age creeps in - but I was not convinced that this was 'normal'!

To cut a long story short, after visiting GPs for other symptoms and finally being diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism, my vision problems gradually began to improve. It took a long time (probably more than a couple of years), even once I was on a supposedly sensible dose of medication.

I still have those two pairs of glasses gathering dust in a drawer somewhere... yes, what I'm saying is that I haven't needed to wear any glasses at all for several years now, despite the fact that I'm also getting older! Only when light is bad, and/or print is very small, do I have any difficulty with vision. That said, one of the first clues for me that thyroid levels are wonky, is when I start to notice my vision isn't quite right.

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Good heavens---how on earth did you manage to walk around? Must have been very difficult! I have been extremely myopic since 2nd grade, but noticed that life generally seemed "darker" than usual about 4 years ago. Now, I understand why I have always needed nite=lites in every room of the house; I must sit under a special lamp and hold the book close. I am reading more and more from my Kindle....

I will get my thyroid levels checked again the next time I go in to see my rheumatologist. Then we'll see what's up!

Thanks again! Nina


I forgot to mention that my colour vision was also badly affected, with everything looking much duller than normal. At it's worst I experienced complete loss of colour vision, seeing everything in shades of grey only. As someone who'd previously been working in textile design, you can imagine how distressing that was. Again, this has resolved completely over time.

In case anyone reading this conversation is interested in the colour vision aspect specifically, here's an article about the connection between thyroid hormone and colour vision


Hi Nina,

I read your question with great interest as I am also hypothyroid. I have worn glasses for myopia since I was 13. However, I have had new and exciting vision problems for the past couple of years including blurred close and distance vision, erratic focus and diplopia (double vision) in both eyes, problems in both bright light and low light levels. With the low light problems I have been afraid to go out after dark and with the general poor focus I have not been able to work and have claimed ESA since February last year. My optician had been unable to correct my eyesight with lens and asked that I be referred for hospital treatment and my GP referred me to the nearest eye hospital.

Having waited months to be seen at the eye hospital, the first doctor did a lot of tests and declared that the problems were likely to be thyroid related but he was unable to refer me to an appropriate clinic as the PCT clinic were in charge of my treatment. I then attended the PCT clinic where I was told that the thyroid connection was nonsense as I was hypothyroid, only hyperthyroid people have related vision problems and I only required new lens and was referred on to the hospital’s Optometrist. The Optometrist said that new lens were not going to help, it all looked thyroid related to her and that I needed further assessment by the PCT clinic.

I had been seen by ATOS for a WCA by this time and, before the second PCT clinic appointment arrived, DWP told me I was fit for work and that my ESA had been withdrawn. I presented at the Jobcentre and the Advisor there told me to appeal as I was clearly not able to work in my usual (clerical/secretarial) capacity and they had not been instructed to offer me any extra support or training.

After another couple of months I was seen again by the PCT clinic. Again the idea of anything being thyroid related was dismissed and the doctor would only discuss my having cataracts, she completely ignored the issue of night vision or bright lights, the diplopia and the erratic and poor focus. She then referred me on to the hospital’s cataract surgeon.

Again, I waited months to see the cataract surgeon. His take on my eyesight, again ignoring the diplopia, poor focus and night vision, was that there was nothing wrong and if he did the cataract surgery my eyesight would be much worse and I would most likely go blind and then asked when I wanted to have the surgery done. My reaction was to ask for time to think about it as he had just told me he would blind me. The surgeon again said there was nothing wrong with my eyesight and told me that I should go out and get a job and with that he discharged me from clinic.

All of this seemed rather like going to the GP and/or Endo, telling them you do not feel well and their parroting the standard reply of “your TSH and T4 are fine, your fine”, but that’s a whole separate story.

Having spent several months with no straight diagnosis and no treatment but worsening eyesight, I went straight to my GP who immediately referred me for a second opinion. I had to wait a couple of months but was seen by an Ophthalmic Surgeon who, having also dismissed that thyroid connection again due to my being hypo, decided that there were several reasons why my eyesight might be failing, paricularly as I was an elderly patient (at the age of 56 I’d accept decrepit but had not thought I was elderly) but the main thing was they needed to remove the cataracts before a clear diagnosis could be made as not only could I not see out, but that cataracts were obscuring their vision in. This surgeon’s attitude was that he had no intentions of making things worse but, as with all surgery, there was a risk and I am due to have the first surgery at the end of February.

In the meantime, my ESA tribunal has come up and I will attend court and, no doubt, lose my case, on Wednesday.

What really galls me about this is that the long drawn out fiasco to get any diagnosis or treatment has not been my doing. Had I been offered an appointment and treatment when I was first referred to the original hospital it is likely that I would not have needed to continue to claim ESA.

Sorry, rather boring and self-absorbed and does not answer the question, but just to let you know you are not alone.

Best of luck in getting treatment.



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What a ghastly set of experiences. Don't feel an apology is needed - at all. Thank you for the effort in posting.

Funny how things come and go from your mind. I had several experiences of monocular diplopia - and very strange that was. And I am 100%convinced they were thyroid-related.

Also investigated for other issues (dryness, over-sized optic nerve, possible glaucoma, etc.) - ended up simply getting lubricant products. And about a month later everything seemed suddenly to improve - very odd.


All the best for wed, is someone going with you?


No, no one to help. That's why I don't think I will win - especially I will not be able to read my own notes!


Just be yourself, tell it as it is warts n all. I know not ideal but of you can't read your own notes that's good in a way. You can show that by trying and failing, you'll have to rely on memory. Sorry you have no one with u, will be thinking of you. Hugs


Thanks Twinks,



This is very interesting.

Does anyone know if this is the same as colour vision anomaly (the modern term for colour blindness)? I ask because I am hypo, but both my boys have sever colour vision anomalies.

Thanks to the original poster and hope you get sorted.



Hi Mary,

My son is colour blind, and I know that colour blindness runs down my paternal side too. But my autoimmune hypo is from my maternal side. I don't think there is a known connection, but maybe it could be something they will figure out some time in the future. There is so much research going on about the effects of thyroid function and thyroid hormone on the brain and body these days, and it feels like up until now they've only ever scratched the surface!


Even tho I can't find a study saying definitivly yes or no on the subject, I've always thought my cataract in my left eye was caused by my hypothyroidism. (whether or not it is auto-immune I'm still waiting to get the definitive test results on) There's no real proof to a connection that I've been given after asking both my optomitrist and my endo because they didn't have a solid answer either, but it makes sense to me. I really can't see it being anything else since around the same time the cataract started to form, my hypothyroid symptoms and health started deteriorating back to a point where I felt like I was before the thyroid meds.

I've always been very short sighted since I was little, to a point I can't read street signs across the road clearly without my glasses. But my sight in my left eye did something even the optimitrist said wasn't the standard normal for cataract progression. Aside from being in my mid thirties with a cataract, which is very unusual in itself, I started getting vision back in my left eye before it went fully cataract. 16 months ago I was at 20/20 vision in my left eye with a slight halo around light sources, and as of my last check up I have been referred to have the cataract removed because as the optimitrist said, it was quite an impressive cataract. He can't locate anything else wrong with the eye other than an advanced cataract.

Its all very strange, and a little bit frightening to me. Even he's a bit shocked by the whole scale and how fast it has progressed. I've had my calcium and vitamin D checked and those were within normal ranges, but it just wouldn't surprise me that untreated or regressing hypothyroid problems could cause visual imparements.


Hi all this is all very worrying as I had my eyes tested about 18 months ago and the chap said at the end of the test you are aware that you have cataracts growing in both eyes aren't you! I said but they were not there on my previous appointment were they? do you think it could be something to do with my thyroid problem? He said no, so I took his word for it! but my sight is getting very blurred lately, perhaps I should go back again to see him, but he was only an optician.

Thank you for all the info keep well.

Regards wakeham.


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