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Papillary Thyroid Cancer Contributing to Dry Eye

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  • Papillary Thyroid Cancer Contributing to Dry Eye

    I'm 34 year old 1 year papillary thryoid cancer survivor with chronic dryness in my left eye worse than the right. I was told that the dry eye stemmed from the thyroid issue. I had hoped that once I was diagnosed and regulated on the thyroid medication that the dry eye condition would improve but no such luck. Although it is 20% better in that I have not had any recurrent corneal erosions in a year, it is still frustrating. I can't wear any eye make-up because it irritates my eyes more. Forget about contact lenses! The eye drops sometimes make me worse than they do better. I'm on restasis and have had the plugs put in both upper and lower plus I use genteal gel at a night. Every day, my mouth is dry. I feel like I can't drink enough water. I've been tested twice for Sjogren's but all have come back negative. My eye constantly feels like there is something in it even though there is not. I'm literally dry as desert with no relief. Are they any other thyroid cancer survivors out there with the same problem?

  • #2
    I'm so sorry to hear about your thyroid problems.

    I have what they believe are benign tumors (nodules) on mine and am on a low dose of synthroid, which (I think) has caused the erosions to abate.

    Genteal Gel at night and Dwelle have helped me. I also sleep with Tranquileyes goggles.

    I don't know if I can offer anything in the way of a connection between thyroid problems and dry eye. My endocrinologist does not believe that the improvement I noticed after taking synthroid has anything to do with the synthroid. However, I think it helped me.

    Has your thyroid been removed?

    I'm not getting very good answers from my doctor, so I am kind of in the wilderness on this matter. I wish I could be of more help to you.



    • #3
      Hi, I'm new here but I wanted to add to this thread.

      I also have two (2 cm) benign nodules on the right side of my thyroid. All of my thyroid blood work always comes back in the "normal" range, so no one will do anything about it. My right eye is definitely more of a problem than my left eye which also leads me to believe that my thyroid issues play a part with the dry eyes. It is very frustrating because doctors only want to go with the blood work, they certainly don't seem to want to listen to the patient!

      I just wanted to say I sympathize with you.


      • #4
        T4 v. T5

        Please forgive if I am referencing the wrong sub-factors in thyroid testing, above, but I want to get something out on this quickly, to spark possible exploration by others into the details.

        The TSH test is, to my knowledge, still relied on most heavily to determine thyroid function. This test looks at whether hormones that stimulate thyroid secretions are being overworked in order to compensate for low thyroid function, or whether such hormones are being underworked, due to excessive thyroid function. In other words, TSH doesn't measure actual thyroid secretions directly.

        For at least 15 years, now, some alternative health practitioners have been measuring at least 2 kinds of thyroid secretions, in order to identify mostly hypothyroidism, and I think that one of these (possibly T5) is still not commonly tested at all, in the conventional community. The result has been that many naturopaths and licensed nutritionists will recommend thyroid supplementation (synthetic or natural) when these particular tests indicate dysfunction, EVEN when TSH looks normal.

        Many women have experienced dramatic improvement after receiving thryoid supplementation, despite their having normal TSH results. The key to this is finding those practitioners who will do more specific testing.

        I am willing to bet that Drs. Jonathan Wright and Alan Gaby have published on this in one of their Townsend newsletters. I'll post links to anything I find on this shortly.

        Again, T4 and T5 may not be correct references. (I know more about feline thyroid testing than human testing, and may accidentally be citing the wrong factors for humans. (:^))
        <Doggedly Determined>


        • #5
          A few thyroid misconceptions

          I had a folicular varient of pappillary thyroid cancer 10 years ago, and therefore my thyroid was removed. How fortunate that the thyroid function can be replaced with synthetic hormone only once a day. I'm sure diabetics wish that missing pancreas hormones were so easy to manage.

          I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions that are floating around this board. First of all, thyroid nodules and papillary thyroid cancer do not effect the function of the thyroid (all my thyroid hormone levels were in the normal range when I had cancer), and therefore do not cause dry eye. Thyroid cancer is found by detection of a lump and radioactive scan, not by symptoms.

          What CAN cause dry eye is being hypothyroid (high TSH, caused either by the thyroid or pituitary gland), because your whole body slows down, including secretions. There is also an inflammatory disease of the thyroid called Hashimoto's, which can cause various symptoms as well, even if your TSH is still in the normal range, and it can slowly damage your thyroid function. An endocrinologist can check one for antibodies for Hashimoto's. Studies have shown that thyroid inflammation caused by Hashimoto's can be reduced by taking levothyroxine, even if your TSH is in the normal range.

          However, my TSH is kept near zero (that is the protocol for post cancer patients to prevent re-growth), which puts me technically in the hyper-thryoid range (not HYPO, which causes dry eye), and I still have severe dry eye. So, thyroid hormone supplementation is not a magic bullet for dry eye, but it certainly may help some folks who have thyroid function problems and symptoms. It's something that should be addressed by an endocrinologist, not a GP.



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