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The Effects Of Hormones On Vision

Monday, October 5, 2015 @ 10:10 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that hormones can completely change everything about a person, from the inside out. And as we’ve discussed over and over, your vision and eye health is no different then any other part of your body. So yes, hormones can and do affect your eyes and vision in more ways then one.

What Are Hormones?

Before we begin talking about how hormones affect us, it’s probably a good idea to start with describing what hormones are exactly and what they do in general. So here we go. Hormones are basically molecules that are produced by glands that make your body do things. They travel through your blood stream and prompt a reaction to start. Hormones are responsible for things likes growth, weight loss and weight gain, puberty, determining your sex, metabolism, sleep, hunger, mood, your immune system, etc. OK so that’s an extremely simplified version but I think you get the point: hormones do everything.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s think about the ways certain hormones can affect the eyes.

The Colour Of Your Eyes

Inside your throat (so to speak) is a gland called the thyroid gland. And the thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones. These hormones control a lot of things, including the colour of your eyes. The colour of your eyes is actually determined by the wavelength of light the cells in yours eyes are sensitive to. These cells, called cones, function as photoreceptors and are essentially triggered when there is light.

The thyroid hormone will cause a reaction in the cones which will make it start to produce a certain type of pigment (colour). This pigment is what will determine the colours (or wavelength of light) it is most sensitive to, and in turn, dictate the eye’s colour. As a result, the colour of a person’s eyes can change throughout its lifetime depending on the signals sent by the thyroid gland.

Pregnancy and Hormones

Every woman knows that once you get pregnant, your body’s hormones will take you on a roller coaster ride. Sorry for the bad (but accurate) analogy. Not surprisingly, these ups and downs with your hormones can also cause changes in your vision. Most of these changes are temporary and your vision will revert to its normal self once you’ve given birth or have finished breastfeeding. However in some small instances, these changes are cause for concern and you should speak with your eye doctor to ensure they check it out. Most of the common problems are dry eyes and blurry vision. However if you develop high blood pressure you’re at risk of also developing preeclampsia which can be very serious. The signs include seeing strange lights like auras or having temporary vision loss.

Pregnant women are also at risk of developing gestational diabetes which can cause serious harm to the retina’s blood vessels resulting in irreparable damage to the eyes.

Dry Eyes

A very common vision health problem, dry eyes is more prevalent in post-menopausal women. With the decrease of female hormones during this time of life, many side effects occur such as hot flashes, mood swings, and vision problems. Though dry eyes isn’t something to be overly concerned about as it is easily treatable with over-the-counter tear gels and eye drops, in some instances dry eyes can result in infection and impaired vision.

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