Hormones are chemical ‘messengers’ created within the endocrine glands that control and regulate various bodily functions, including mood, hunger, sleep, and reproduction. Increased or insufficient hormone levels can affect almost every part of the body, including the eyes. Here is a look at some of the surprising ways hormonal fluctuations occurring throughout the life cycle can affect the eyes and vision.
Influences the length of the eyeball during puberty
Just as an adolescent’s body goes through a rapid growth spurt during puberty, surging hormones may cause the eyeball to lengthen and create or lead to myopia or nearsightedness.
Causes dry, irritated eyes during childbearing years
Women may experience changes in their eyesight during their childbearing years due to hormonal fluctuations and imbalances caused by pregnancy or birth control pills. Shifting progesterone and estrogen levels can affect the glands in the eyes and eyelids, leading to dry, irritated eyes. Estrogen, the primary sex hormone in women, can cause the cornea to become more elastic, changing how light travels through the eye. These changes could lead to blurred vision and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Hormonal changes during menopause or perimenopause may also cause vision to fluctuate.
The thyroid’s effect on ocular health and vision
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that help regulate metabolism. If the thyroid gland does not generate the correct amount or type of hormone, it could have notable effects on the eyes and vision. In Graves’ disease, an antibody attacks the thyroid gland, which may cause it to produce too much thyroid hormone. People with Graves’ disease may experience changes in the muscles and tissues around the eyes. These changes may cause bulging eyes, pain or pressure in the eyes, puffy or retracted lids, or a gritty sensation in the eyes. Thyroid hormone levels can also have other effects on vision. High levels of the T4 thyroid hormone can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Thyroid hormone levels may also affect the development and regulation of cones and cells in the eyes responsible for color vision.
If you have noticed any unusual vision changes, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with 3for1 Glasses for a comprehensive eye exam. We can help determine the underlying factors affecting your vision, discuss ways to minimize or resolve your symptoms, and, if needed, recommend that you see your primary care doctor for a medical work-up to check your hormone levels. For more information, contact 3for1 Glasses to book an exam or visit our store.