Researchers in Turkey examined the relationship between dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) in cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and found a significant association between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and dry eye even in the absence of thyroid ophthalmopathy. Their findings revealed that MGD is a significant contributor to the development of dry eye as well as symptoms of ocular discomfort in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

The prospective study included 105 patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and 105 controls. The Hashimoto’s thyroiditis eyes demonstrated significantly lower tear break-up times, Schirmer test scores and meibomian gland expression. The researchers also found those eyes also displayed significantly higher ocular surface disease index (OSDI) scores, corneal fluorescein staining results, eyelid abnormality scores, meibography scores and areas of meibomian gland loss.

As the duration of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis increased, the severity of meibomian gland loss also significantly increased. OSDI scores correlated with the duration of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as well. The researchers are led to believe that MGD may hold a prominent role not only in diminished tear production but also in the appearance of uncomfortable ocular symptoms in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. “The evaluation of the function of the meibomian glands and that of dry eye syndrome should be conducted together for the proper management and treatment of patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis,” the study authors conclude in their paper.

Altin Ekin M, Karadeniz Ugurlu S, Egrilmez ED, Oruk GG. Ocular surface changes in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis without thyroid ophthlamopathy. February 24, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].