Thyroid and The Eyes
September is thyroid cancer awareness month. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with this form of cancer it is important to work with your doctors to get it treated. I want to spend some time today talking about thyroid disease in general. Most patients are surprised to find out that even minor issues such as being hypo- or hyper- thyroid can affect their eyes. The most common affect is a decrease in tear production that leads to a dry eye. Symptoms of dry eye can include redness, sandy or gritty feeling, and excess tearing. Most dry eye can be treated with over the counter artificial tears and proper lid hygiene. It’s important to work with you eye doctor to ensure effective treatment for maximum relief from your symptoms. As we move into more severe forms of thyroid disease such as Graves’ disease we can find more severe effects on the eyes. One of the more drastic effects is a proptosis which is a forward displacement of the eyes that makes them appear to bulge forward. This can cause damage to the outside surface of the eye because of the fact that the eyelids are unable to cover and re-wet part of the eye especially while sleeping. Your doctor can do tests to diagnose if this is causing your eye pain and blurry vision. While taping the eyelids while sleeping may help mild forms of proptosis or as a temporary fix more severe forms these do sometimes require surgical intervention to return the eye to a more normal position. As we move into the life-threatening conditions such as cancer there can be effect on the eye that result from all of the other types of thyroid conditions. As you move through your journey you may be hyper or hypo thyroid at different times as you proceed with surfer and medical treatment of your cancer. While the oncologist will recommend a course to treat the disease and ultimately return things to normal remember that your eye doctor can help with any symptoms you may experience with your eyes is order to keep you comfortable.