If your eyes start to itch or burn or hurt, it may not always be due to an allergy. The uncomfortable and painful condition may be linked to issues with your thyroid gland, which is small and butterfly-like located just at the base of your neck. Dry eyes are even considered the first sign of a thyroid disorder. So, don’t just search for the eye drops that generally work for you. Sometimes it’s best to get checked out and see if dry eyes are related to a thyroid disorder.
HealthShots consulted Dr. Mahesh Chavan, Consultant, Endocrinology, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, and Dr. Abhishek Hoshing, Consultant, Ophthalmology, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai to explore the link between dry eyes and thyroid disorders.
Can the thyroid cause dry eye?
The answer is yes, hyperthyroidism can affect several body systems including the eyes (difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism). Dr. Chavan says that along with dry eyes, the thyroid can cause the eyes to itch or burn, feel gritty and sore. He warns that this could be one of the first signs of thyroid disease.
Thyroid eye disease vs dry eyes
Women, especially those who are going through menopause, may have noticed their eyes getting dry. But Dr. Chavan says thyroid eye disease is an autoimmune disease, which is an activation of orbital fibroblasts by autoantibodies directed against thyroid receptors. This is a serious eye problem, as thyroid eye disease can even lead to blindness. Thyroid eye disease should be evaluated by an endocrinologist and an ophthalmologist. If the dry eye problem persists, you should see an ophthalmologist and also do a thyroid test.
Causes of dry eyes
The most common cause of dry eye is aging, says Dr. Hoshing. As you age and reach the stage of menopause, the problem of dry eyes becomes common. There are also certain medical conditions such as –
• Allergic eye disease
• Thyroid disorder
• Sjögren’s syndrome (an immune system disorder characterized not only by dry eyes, but also by dry mouth)
• Rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic inflammatory disorder).
These can all make your eyes dry, as can vitamin A and vitamin D deficiencies. To avoid getting dry eyes, always opt for nutritious foods.
Tips for treating dry eyes
Getting checked out by an eye doctor is one way to treat dry eye, but you also need to make some lifestyle changes.
Here’s what you can do for healthy eyes
• Wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear.
• Take eye breaks from your computer or mobile screen.
• Avoid smoking and being around smoke.
• Drink enough water if you aren’t already (hydration myths).
• Avoid direct blasts from air conditioners and fans.
• Blink frequently, especially when looking at screens or reading books.
It’s true that crying all the time isn’t healthy, but your eyes should be making enough tears. If that doesn’t happen or your tears evaporate too quickly, you’ll end up with dry eyes. This is a bad thing because you will end up with eye pain and sometimes blurred vision.
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