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Hypothyroid and dry eyes?

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  • Hypothyroid and dry eyes?

    I wonder if any here have been diagnosed with hypothyroid problems coinciding with dry eyes.

    I just found out that I "a bit" out of the usual range for the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). My doctor wants to wait till May to get a complete thyroid blood profile. I am also a bit low on platelets and white blood count. Other than the blood results, I don't have any major hypothyroid symptoms except for the dry eyes, I guess.


  • #2
    Graves Disease or Thyroid Eye Disease

    Why is he waiting 3 months to do this? Has your physician investigated Thyroid Eye Disease or Graves Disease?: or:



    • #3
      Billye, you're right--I don't know why the doctor wants to wait 3 months. I "sort of asked" when she gave me the results, and I called later to see if I could get the T3-T4 blood tests done now---and she said again just to wait.

      I hate waiting; I guess that's the bottom line. And worrying increases stress, which I really don't need more of.

      Guess I'll do something about this--I DO have a family history of low thyroid (my mother has been on thyroid meds for over 50 years).



      • #4

        Yes, I am hypothyroid, as are a other members here. I know it is really difficult to wait when you may have a medical problem. But I do think that the doctor is following protocol.

        Grave's Disease and Thyroid Eye Disease are associated with HYPERthryroidism and can cause serious problems with the eye, including severe dry eye. What you are talking about is HYPOthyroidism (low thyroid) and can cause dry eye symptoms, but not always.

        The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Thyroid antibodies attack the thyroid gland in a very slow process and eventually destroy the gland's ability to produce thyroid hormones. It can take months, years and even decades for the slow process. That is why your doctor is waiting, I would assume. You may have a slightly high TSH because your thyroid gland is producing slightly less thyroid hormones but maybe not yet at the range that would prompt the doctor to prescribe thyroid replacement medication. Three months would give it more time to progress.

        The other possibility is that the doctor is waiting to see if it is a one time thing. There are some people that have a slightly high TSH and then a few months later it is back to normal.

        I hope this helps.



        • #5
          Thanks, Scout---it helps. Perhaps I WILL wait. The TSH level isn't so high that it would be dangerous to wait or anything.

          I'm in a "reflective" stage now--thinking back on the past couple of years or so, about my health issues, and trying to see if there's some connection with low thyroid. My main complaints (besides dry eyes) are slow and sensitive digestion/elimination (but I've had that for decades). And I seem to lack Motivation--not so much lacking Energy---and that's kind of a new "complaint" for me. I don't particularly want to go on meds, but I will if I have to--and in some ways, I guess I hope it will make me feel better.



          • #6

            Sorry Scout,
            I didn't mean to steer you wrong with that info.

            I would have sworn I had searched for "hypo" not "hyper". Chalk this one up to stress. My husband has to have major spinal surgery in a week or so and I've just fractured my ankle.

            Again I apologize.



            • #7

              I have Grave's desease (or's regulated with mediaction now, I've operated my eyes....) and severely dry eyes, but have never found any specific information that Grave's desease may lead to dry eyes. Where did you read that? I would be very interested in getting more information about it.



              • #8

                [emphasis added]

                Grave's disease, also known as thyroid eye disease or thyroid orbitopathy, is the most common cause of proptosis (protruding eye) in adults. Women are affected nine times more often than men are. Most patients present with symptoms between 20 and 45 years of age. One or both eyes may be proptotic (protruding) and the eyelids retracted, creating a staring appearance. The upper eyelids tend to lag behind the eye as the patient looks down. Because of the greater exposure of the eye, dry eye symptoms (e.g., burning, stinging, etc.) may be present. There is often redness of the eyes and swelling of the ocular surface (conjunctiva). Because the eye (extraocular) muscles enlarge in this condition, double vision may occur due to limited motility of the eye. Also, because there is inflammation of orbital (eye socket) fat and enlargement of the eye muscles, there may be compression of the optic nerve resulting in optic neuropathy. This latter condition may lead to permanent visual loss.


                • #9
                  Hyperthyroid has some Dry Eye Syndrome association but I am not familiar with hypothyroid issues. I will do some research and see what I can come up with for you.


                  • #10
                    According to my friend who is also a doctor, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is associated with dry eyes and puffy eyelids. My understanding is that the eye symptoms do not always occur in every individual with the diagnosis. She also stated that other forms of hypothyroidism can be associated with dry eye.


                    • #11
                      I knew that if I searched, I would find a thread on the thyroid here!

                      I have a multinodular goiter, diagnosed in December 2006. The nodes are benign, and the TSH is 1.34, normal range. However, I have symptoms of hypothyroid, even though I am small in frame.

                      My sister was just diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease.

                      Today, I was told that because the nodes did not grow very much (one grew two mm since last year), no biopsy was needed.

                      I explained to my endocrinologist, whom I just met two weeks ago, that I have been having this eye problem. I also said that all of my cornea doctors and other ophthalmologists remarked about the thinness of my epithelium. So, I asked for synthroid, just in case it might help with my eyes. I don't know if it will, and I will be put on a very low dose (12.5 mg). It is worth a try. Anything that even might make my eyes healthier is something that I will try. I explained all that I do to keep my eyes from having rce's, but the fear is still there.

                      So, I am on the hypothyroid bus, and I'll let you all know if I learn anything.

                      Thanks for starting this thread, Calli66! And, thanks to everyone who posted their thoughts and experiences.



                      • #12
                        It's an older thread to be sure. My story continued and my TSH got higher during the summer of 2007. The blood count info lead to an ANA test for auto-immunity---which was positive. Further tests showed that I have the Sjogren's anti-bodies and one of the thyroid anti-bodies (Hashimoto's thyroiditis). I have 2 small nodules also---they did an ultrasound and said those were benign.

                        I started taking plaquenil and Levothroid (T-4) in mid October last year. My TSH level is 1.64 now---down from 6.54. AND---my eyes feel much better --but they're still dry.

                        I have learned a lot from a Yahoo Group for thyroid disease, link is here, with more info here. There are many good support groups. One thing I learned is that everybody's different. Some people have a "normal" TSH but still have hypothyroid symptoms. You have to get the free T-3 and free T-4 tests--and there are still further tests, too---that can show if the thyroid hormone is actually available for use in the body.

                        The puffiness of my eyelids has definitely gone down since I started on the meds.

                        I was confused about the dose you're taking---usually it's in "micrograms" or a decimal fraction. For example, I take 50 mcg or .050 mg which is supposed to be a low dose. I wonder if your dose of 12.5 mg is more or less than mine. Would that be 12.5 mcg, or .0125 mg? A dose of 12.5 mg would be a high dose.



                        • #13
                          Thanks for the links, Calli66. I'll be sure to check them.

                          You are right. I made a mistake. It is 25 mcg, and I am to break the pill in half.

                          I'll have to find out what kinds of tests to take. I'd like to know for certain what my problem is.

                          Glad to hear that your symptoms improved somewhat. I am going to ask my ophthalmologist to try and keep track of the thickness of my cornea. I wonder, if, like dry skin and brittle hair, the epithelium of the cornea can be weakened from the same problem.



                          • #14
                            Hey Ladies!

                            You both are playing my song.

                            I read this thread and wondered if Rebecca was thinking, “There are new posts in a thyroid thread . . . where’s Scout?!”


                            Thanks for the update. I am really happy that you are feeling better and are now on a good therapeutic dose for your thyroid.

                            Back in the day, I found a great deal of help from thyroid help boards and patients advocate sites, especially the one on

                            Back when doctors were listening to the pharmaceutical companies and not their patients, they weren’t aware that the medications were not manufactured properly. The patient advocate groups filed a class action lawsuit and were effective in changing how the pills were made. The original pills did not dissolve quickly enough and patients sometimes did not get an effective dose. Now you have to swallow the pills quickly or they melt in your mouth. Score one for the patient groups.

                            Since both of you are new to the meds, here are a few quick things to think of:

                            Don’t take any vitamins or supplements AT LEAST 2 hours before or AT LEAST four hours after taking your thyroid meds (on an empty stomach). Calcium and iron particularly interfere with thyroid meds.

                            Anytime your hormones change naturally (ex: menopause, peri-menopause or pregnancy) or artificially (like birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, oral steroids like prednisone) your thyroid levels can change. Be sure you have your levels checked if any hormonal changes occur in your life.

                            As Calli stated, your own symptoms and how you are feeling (together with your lab results) are what your doctor should be looking at. It’s a very delicate balance and many things can affect your levels and how you feel.

                            As you both know, thyroid levels affect your eyes as well. More so with hyperthyroidism, but also with hypothyroidism.

                            I was feeling particularly tired a few years back. My doc first upped my meds by .50 to .200 mg. That did not help. After she looked at the lab results, she lowered my original dosage (that had worked for over 10 years) from .150 mg to .112 mg. Interestingly enough, I had more energy and felt better on LESS medication. And it helped my dry eye as well. If your dose is too high, your eyes can get worse, as mine did. The nighttime eyes not closing, the dryness, the inflammation . . . improved a bit when she lowered my dose.

                            Too high, too low . . . both can affect dry eyes, inflammation and the nighttime dryness.

                            Last edited by Scout; 29-Feb-2008, 09:57.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Scout View Post
                              You both are playing my song.

                              I read this thread and wondered if Rebecca was thinking, “There are new posts in a thyroid thread . . . where’s Scout?!”
                              Actually, I was thinking, "She knows I'm thinking that she's thinking she knows what I'm thinking... I'll stymie her by NOT posting in this thread volunteering her, for once."

                              Say, Oprah's on a hypothyroid kick. Maybe our day will come.
                              Rebecca Petris
                              The Dry Eye Zone