If your eyes start itching or burning or feel sore, it may not always be due to an allergy. The uncomfortable and painful condition can be connected to problems with your thyroid gland, which is small and looks like a butterfly located right at the base of your neck. Dry eyes are even seen as the first sign of a thyroid disorder. So, don’t just reach out for the eye drops that generally work for you. Sometimes, it’s better to get checked and see if dry eyes are connected 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 disorder.
The answer is yes, hyperthyroidism can affect multiple systems in the body, including eyes (difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism). Dr Chavan says that along with dry eyes, thyroid can cause itching or burning in the eyes, feeling gritty and sore. He warns that this could be one of the first signs of thyroid disease.
Women, especially those who went through menopause might have noticed their eyes getting dry. But Dr Chavan says that thyroid eye disease is an autoimmune disease, which is an activation of orbital fibroblasts by autoantibodies against the thyroid receptors. It is a serious eye problem as thyroid eye disease can even cause blindness. Thyroid eye disease needs to be evaluated by an endocrinologist and an ophthalmologist. If dry eye problem continues, you need to meet an ophthalmologist and also do a thyroid test.
The most common cause of dry eyes is ageing, says Dr Hoshing. When you grow older and you reach the menopause stage, the problem of dry eyes becomes common. There are also certain medical conditions such as –
• Allergic eye disease
• Thyroid disorder
• Sjogren’s syndrome (an immune system disorder that is characterised by not only dry eyes, but also dry mouth)
• Rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic inflammatory disorder).
These can all make your eyes dry, and so will vitamin A and vitamin D deficiency. To avoid having dry eyes, always go for nutritious food.
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Getting yourself checked from an ophthalmologist is one way to treat dry eyes, but you need to make some lifestyle changes too.
• Wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear.
• Take eye breaks from your computer or mobile screen.
• Avoid smoking and being around smoke.
• Drink adequate amount of water if you aren’t doing it already (hydration myths).
• Avoid direct blasts from air conditioner and fans.
• Blink frequently, especially while watching screens or reading books.
It’s true that crying all the time is not healthy, but your eyes should make enough tears. If that doesn’t happen or your tears evaporate too quickly then you’ll end up with dry eyes. This is a bad thing as you will end up with eye pain and sometimes blurred vision.