I know that hyperthyroidism can sometimes affect the eyes — but could hypothyroidism also cause eye problems?
Answer From Ann Kearns, M.D., Ph.D.
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) isn't usually associated with eye disease. In severe cases, however, hypothyroidism may cause swelling around the eyes and a loss of the hairs in the outer part of the eyebrows.
In some people, an eye problem known as Graves' ophthalmopathy may develop if hypothyroidism develops after treatment for Graves' disease — the most common form of overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Graves' ophthalmopathy can cause eye discomfort, protruding eyeballs and vision changes.
Ann Kearns, M.D., Ph.D.
Sept. 12, 2019
- AskMayoExpert. Graves ophthalmopathy. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
- Graves' eye disease (Graves' ophthalmopathy or Graves' orbitopathy). American Thyroid Association. https://www.thyroid.org/graves-eye-disease/. Accessed Aug. 22, 2019.
- Jameson JL, et al., eds. Hypothyroidism. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 20th ed. The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2018. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Aug. 22, 2019.
- Molina PE. Thyroid gland. In: Endocrine Physiology. 5th ed. McGraw-Hill Education; 2018. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Aug. 22, 2019.