Eyes and the Thyroid

I wanted to know if anyone else has problems with their eyes. I wear glasses and I am quite sensitive to changes in prescription so last year got my eyes checked and my prescription had changed only 0.25. Got new glasses but my eye problems have persisted.

My eyes feel permanently strained. Very dry (which I know is a thyroid thing) but heavy, tired and often feels like the cause of a headache. Recently I feel like my sinuses are full but I have no cold or symptoms or obvious fluid. I am considering going to my GP as it has been going on for so long and feel I have dealt with it with eye tests etc but if it is to do with my thyroid not being medicated effectively (as of yet) I really don't want to throw it into the mix.

Anyone any experience?

23 Replies

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  • Hi Poppy,

    Yes i do have problems, feel very dry and sometimes a bit gritty and yes feel like they cause headaches, not sure why but im still full of thyroid symptoms, so thought it was part of the illness.

    Best wishes

    Angie

  • Poppy,

    I have worn glasses since I was about 8 - and am now over 50 - for moderate short sightedness and astigmatism. Throughout that time I too have noticed small changes which each time resulted in a new prescription.

    As I slowly deteriorated in thyroid terms over a couple of years or so, my eyesight also deteriorated. But this time, instead of a small increment (or should that be decrement?) in the prescription I found this change was different in that my range of focussing seemed reduced. That is, whereas I have always been perfectly able to use my normal glasses for a computer monitor at work, I now needed an intermediate prescription. Luckily my company paid for them.

    My eyes also seemed to struggle to cope with a full day of strenuous use, often feeling quite heavy and as if there were slight pressure above the eyeballs.

    And dryness, which I have had to some extent, on and off, for quite a number of years, worsened. (I found ViscoTears single dose units without preservative to be wonderful. They really do last through a night. Shame they are so expensive.)

    Having now been on thyroxine for something like six months, those monitor glasses sit in my desk drawer untouched. My ViscoTears sits in the bathroom cabinet mostly untouched. And my eyes just feel better.

    Reading through what is written above, I realise that there isn't yet any mention of the improvement to my colour vision and indeed somehow to my 3-D perception. Not that they were markedly impaired, but the thyroxine very definitely restored them.

    Of course, just because that was my experience does not mean you will be the same.

    Rod

  • Thank you. that is interesting. I did mention to the first endo that I was having eye pain and he rolled his eyes at me, looked at the nurses and gave them the 'for goodness sake' look. I was about to have a biopsy. He made me feel very stupid for even mentioning it. I may give it a little bit more time since there are a lot of changes in my medication and see if things improve (or get worse).

  • my eyes have often ached, and been sensitive to light, but not needed a prescription.

    recently i have become short sighted, aged 45. i put it down to old age, but there is the thought that it is quite unusual to get this in middle(usually goes the other way) age and i hope it is not thyroid stuff. been on replacement for 10 years.

    jonny

  • jonnybwells,

    Do you do a lot of computer work as this causes short sightedness?

  • Jonnybwells. I was told that going short sighted was common in middle age. I went short sighted after working on spreadsheets for the council in 2002, I was told it was very common after doing lots of computer work. My prescription hasn't really changed since and I am within legal driving limits for my long distance although wear varafocals for ease.

    PS 45 isn't old age!

  • I had a new eye test a few weeks ago, and my left eye has deteriorated more. I now have my new glasses.

    For the past three months, I have been having an occasional sharp pain go through the eye

    and my eyes are drier too.

  • I do a lot of computer work - like every working hour and at home I use my laptop lots and lots. And I have done so for many years.

    But for me the change due to low thyroid hormone was qualitatively different to the 'ordinary' changes over the years. I found my focus was going past the optimum, then coming back - and sort of oscillating around the optimum. And it seemed to take positive effort to read anything - whereas I have always been on autopilot reading everything everywhere without any degree of conscious effort.

    Rod

  • This was one of my most noticeable symptoms. I could not focus and refocus. (Teaching assistant 0 looking between whiteboard and book all the time) The world would bounce by along side me as I struggled to keep up. I had an eye test a few days after I was diagnosed and he said my eyes were fine - perscription of 0.25. I told him of my diagnosis.

    He was adamant that my problems were due to absolute exhaustion of my eye muscles and said that it would return to normal when treatment kicked in.

    He was right.

    It is a real obvious one for me and I know if I can't read the guide on the TV I need to get my bloods rechecked - always showing an increase in meds needed.

    I think this year in particular is bad for sinuses. Mine a re rubbish and I know many more of my friends are suffering. Do you live near lots of rivers and meadows?

    I hope you get fixed.

  • TrumpetLu. Your description is spot on. The world bounces along side me and makes me feel dizzy and unbalanced at times.

    I do feel like my eyes are exhausted. I wake up in the morning and my eyes hurt, there is no let up. I shall give it a few more weeks and see if there is any improvement with my change of medication. I have felt that it was connected to my thyroid as my eyes have been fine unless I need a change of glasses/prescription and then I get headaches.

    With my sinuses I am noticing temporary relief if I massage them but that could be because my eye muscles are tired. Not near rivers but have a heath in front of us. I do get hayfever when it is really, really bad for a few days but that is it really.

    Thanks for posting, that is very interesting.

  • Just to add my tuppence worth...

    A few years prior to being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I started to suffer deteriorating eyesight. This came as a bit of a shock, because I'd always had good vision and not needed glasses at all. Seemingly overnight, I needed glasses for distance and glasses for reading. Everyone around said this was 'normal at may age.'

    Within no time at all, it became so bad that shopping in the supermarket entailed constantly swapping from one pair of glasses to the other. Without the distance glasses I couldn't see the aisle signage, and without the reading glasses I couldn't read the shelf labels. I staggered around at home, sometimes being unable to judge where the door frame was because i had either the wrong glasses on or no glasses at all.

    My optician suggested vari-focals, which I agreed to try. However, by the time I'd walked out of the door and a few paces down the road, I knew this was not the answer. I couldn't judge where to put my foot when stepping up or down a curb, and I felt nauseous.

    So, much to the annoyance of the optician, I returned the vari-focals for the agreed refund, and persevered with the two pairs of glasses. But my instinct kept telling me something wasn't right.

    I'm now over five years down the line from the hypothyroid diagnosis, and guess what... I no longer wear glasses at all... both pairs of glasses are gathering dust in a drawer somewhere!

    When my thyroid level is out of whack, vision disturbances are one of the first things I notice. Blurred vision, inability to focus, 'visual migraines', dry / gritty eyes and so on, all seem to correlate with thyroid levels being up or down.

    It makes me somewhat angry that many opticians are nowhere near as clued up on the connection between eye problems and thyroid dysfunction as they should be. If my optician had been more on the ball, I might not have ended up with quite such 'severe hypothyroidism' at time of diagnosis. Ditto for my dentist. Would it be too cynical of me to suggest that it's not in the financial interests of dentists and opticians to recognise the signs of potential thyroid problems?

  • Thank you. I really appreciate all replies and knew this was the place to ask :-)

    I have been wearing glasses/contact lenses for many years. I had my eyes lasered years and years ago which were great until I started working for hours and hours at a screen and then my eyes deteriorated quickly. I have been wearing vari-focals for about 8 years and been diagnosed with the thyroid for 2.5 years. Vari-focals do take a lot to get used to and I am extremely sensitive to any changes in the type or brand of lense. After fighting with two opticians I now have a large note written across my prescription that says that I am only to have one specific type of lense and no other!!! My optician did ask if I had a thyroid problem because of my very dry eyes. My consultant (recent) thought he caught a glimpse of something in my eyes and checked them out fully also so I can't complain too much there.

    It is so interesting to learn just how everyone is affected by the thyroid. I get so angry now when I read that having a thyroid issue is simple as a little pill with no side affects can sort it out!!!! Really want to scream. We need some serious joined up thinking when it comes to the thyroid.

  • I would fire that doctor that rolled his eyes at you. You can fire a doctor. I've had to do it. Kind of enjoyed it though. ;) Yes, when I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and was started on Synthroid at first. One of the first things I noticed within the first weeks was that my tired, dry eye feeling was much better. Before that I was constantly wanting to close them or take a nap just so I could rest them. If that starts back up again, I always know I need to go up my thyroid dose.

  • Hi kNat. That Dr was well and truly fired! Since I posted this, 3 years ago, my prescription has returned to almost normal, although need stronger reading glasses. It was my thyroid causing my problems. My new optician asked what medication I was on and we had a long discussion as his wife has underactive thyroid and is still so tired! Passing on the info.

    I am well, on T3 20mcg x 3 a day and lots of supplements. Vit D deficiency treated and low iron too.

  • Hi Poppy

    Just thought I'd add to the mix - I too have focusing problems, sharp eye pains & head aches, I thought not being able to read a book anymore was just lack of concentration/brain fog, even interesting long posts I have to go away & come back.

    First varifocals were a nightmare - walking down the street hanging onto my daughter!

    recent 2nd pair (at a whopping £400 - and nothing fancy either) just manage to see screen and distance (It's always better to look over the top for close ups) I will never get used to them but I would get no work done for swopping glasses.

    Judging distance & parking - really hard since straight lines seem curved. I'm only 2.25 prescription so should not be that bad! but it's enough not to recognise faces either.

    (undiagnosed, waiting for next blood test, GP thinks ME)

  • My eyes are very dry and much to my embarrassment if I am out in the cold wind they stream and it looks like I am crying when I have to wipe them dry with a tissue. This is something I have suffered with for a long time and having my hypoT diagnosed and treated made no difference. I have noticed though that these symptoms seem worse lately and I too was getting frustrated changing glasses in the supermarket. I have recently brought varifocals but the area that has the reading prescription in is so small that I practically go boss eyed trying to read labels etc;. It is all so annoying and very expensive trying to find the best remedy for all this. I also find that I need a transition lense as my eyes are very sensitive to the sunlight.

    I have recently started wearing an older pair of glasses with a darkened lense as they are more comfortable than my new varifocals which no matter how many times I get them tightened just keep falling off my nose! grrrrrrrrrrr........

  • spareribs. I wonder if you are senstive to types of lenses of varifocals. I think, purely by chance, the first pair I got were the right lense for me. After that they have tried putting other lenses in but it is such a nightmare. First time they did it, before thyroid issues, I thought I was coming down with a brain tumour!! Once they sussed it was the lenses I have been fine since. Ask to try a different lense. They have a duty to give you glasses you can use. I felt constant pulling on the corners of my eyes with the wrong ones.

    HypoT2years. Maybe the same for you. They don't tell you that different lenses affect different people. Go back and ask politely for them to change them.

    On a better note, my eyes seem a bit better at the moment, not painful and strained, just tired. I wonder if the medication is starting to work.

  • Thanx Poppy - I'll ask next time - I opted for the thinner lens, I have a pair of ordinary ones which are really clear when driving (no good for PC screen tho)

    I'm glad to hear you think the meds may be working :)

  • It's amazing how many people are commenting on this subject. After wearing contact lenses for a number of years, I went into work one morning and the computer screen was a fuzzy looking mess!! I was prescribed glasses and though I had hypo symptoms my GP said - yes, you've guessed it - I was within 'normal range'! I was eventually given levothyroxine but my eyesight had deteriorated and when I went back to my optometrist he was very concerned as my eyesight had deteriorated by 1 whole dioptre (means nothing to me but apparently this is a lot in one go). He said it was due to my underactive thyroid. I also have problems with being off-balance - it's as if my eye movements are ahead of the signals to my brain - and makes me totally disorientated. I am awaiting tests called C.D.P. and V.N.G. I also have very tired eyes and pain in the eyeball - it's a relief to know it's not just me. Sorry for the long waffle! Good luck Poppy03 x x

  • Maggiet. What you describe is how I used to feel (on occasion) before my diagnosis. I would have to close my eyes to just gain some relief from the disorientation. At first I thought it was to do with my pregnancy and ended up in bed a couple of times because of it but after I was medicated it never happened until once just recently with the dizzy spell and my medication change. Another person has described as the world bobbing alongside them.

    Have you got your test results?

    And yes, I am still feeling better with the eyes since the medication changes. Have a bit of a wobbly bit at the moment with my heart racing and pounding but trying to resolve it.

  • i have such heavy tired eyes all the time its driving me funny, i carnt have a confersation with some one and look them in the eye without having to keep looking away as its killing me to keep my eyes open , been hypo and on same meds for 11 years , so hoping wen ive been to see dr skinner , this along with many other smptom will get a little better , i hope

  • Christina. I understand what you are saying. When I wrote this at the end of January I was at my wits end but since my medication has been changed and we are nearly sorted (I think) my eye problems have all but disappeared. I still get tired eyes but the heaviness has gone and I have noticed my eye lids are drooping less. Let's hope you get it sorted and it may well be a indicator of how you are feeling with your eyes to how you are doing in general.

  • Hi Im new on here, I was just doing some digging on Thyroid and my eyes. There seems to be a separate site for it. When I was first told I may have Graves disease Hyperthyroidism, my eyes had not swollen yet but they soon blew up and were very red. They talked of steroid but I was heavily pregnant by then. My eyes got a little better over time but the swelling has never gone above my eye, just lessened. In face a change of contraceptive which can give you water retention to begin with , made my eyes more swollen???

    Anyway now I am very similar to you. Heavy eyes, I often feel like they have collapsed under my eye and feel very self conscious about them. Its on my mind because I can feel it so much. My nose is always running but I hadn't linked to two together?

    I would get your levels checked asap before your eyes get any worse then they should go back to normal. My swelling doesn't look like it will ever go but when Im well under my eyes look a lot better x

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