Thyroid-related eye disorders can cause a variety of issues for those with the condition. The thyroid gland produces hormones that are important for regulating the body’s metabolism. Overproduction of these hormones can produce symptoms including fatigue, fast heartbeat, weight loss, heat intolerance, thinning hair and diarrhea.

Low production of hormones may also cause fatigue, a slow heartbeat, constipation and weight gain. Females are three times more likely to be affected by thyroid problems. Interestingly, thyroid-related eye problems can happen in a person with a normal functioning thyroid gland, but why?

The answer lies with the autoimmune nature of many thyroid problems. At the heart of a related condition called Graves disease, abnormal antibodies improperly signal an attack on tissues in the body including the thyroid as well as eye tissues, among others.

These bad antibodies can be present in the body even if the thyroid gland is functioning normally. This can cause swelling of the muscles around the eye leading to eye discomfort, double vision, and dry eye problems.

If the swelling is bad enough, surgery to decompress the eye orbit may be necessary.

Dr. Jace Picken is an optometrist at Prairie Vision Center in Wahpeton

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