Why Do Hashimoto’s Disease Patients Suffer from Dry Eyes?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also called Hashimoto’s disease, is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own organs and tissues. In this particular case, the immune system attacks the thyroid. When the thyroid is compromised, it will not produce enough thyroid hormones to run the body’s systems effectively.
Graves’ disease is similar to Hashimoto’s disease because both attack the thyroid. However, Hashimoto’s disease causes the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones at levels that are too low, while Graves’ disease causes the thyroid to produce too many thyroid hormones.
What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease?
Experts are still unclear to the exact cause of Hashimoto’s disease. However, they believe that there are several key factors that play a significant role, including:
- Genes – Often, those diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease have close family members who also have thyroid disease or another autoimmune disease.
- Hormones – Women are affected seven times more than men. Since sex hormones are suggested at playing a role, when a woman gives birth and suffers from thyroid problems, up to 20% will develop Hashimoto’s disease years later.
- Excessive iodine – Iodine is a trace element required to make thyroid hormones. When a person takes in too much iodine, thyroid disease may be triggered.
- Radiation exposure – People who have been exposed to radiation, such as treatments for Hodgkin’s disease, have increased cases of thyroid disease.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease may take years to develop. A goiter is often the first sign of the disease. A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland located at the front of the neck, just below the Adams apple. The front of the neck may appear swollen and swallowing may become difficult.
Other symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:
- Rapid weight gain
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Puffy or pale face
- Pain in joints and muscles
- Constant feeling of cold
- Fertility issues
- Thin, brittle hair or hair loss
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Slower heart rate
Why do Patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Have Dry Eyes?
A current study looked at the presence of dry eyes in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this study, researchers found that patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis suffered from dry eyes at a higher rate than others.
The inflammation from Hashimoto’s disease causes enlarged thyroid glands called a Goiter. Decreased thyroid hormone production means lower metabolism, poor blood circulation which leads to dry eyes. This includes the production of tear and lubricants from meibomian oil glands ( Meibomian Gland Dysfunction).
Tears are made up of a combination of oil, water, and mucus. When one of these three key components is out of balance, tears can evaporate too quickly or cause excessive tears which wash away the oils and mucus.
What Are Some Treatment Options for Patients with Dry Eyes Due to Hashimoto’s Disease?
After the treatment of Hashimoto’s Disease which may include surgery, medicines, or radiation, dry eyes can remain. In order to allow for the eyes to heal and begin producing tears again, some patients use artificial tears and eye ointments.
However, users of artificial tears often complain that after extended use, their eyes actually become drier. This may be due to the artificial tears washing away the natural oils and mucus located on the ocular surface. Some homeopathic ways to keep the eyes from drying out include:
- Wearing an eye mask at night
- Avoid smoke
- Do not sit directly in the path of air conditioners or heaters
- Take frequent breaks when on the computer
- Increase the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids
Natural Alternative Treatments for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Some of these natural alternative approaches include but not limited to
- Natural oral treatment for dry eye disease
- Autoimmune diet to reduce inflammation
- Low Dose Naltrezone – LDN