How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. James Your Own Question
Dr. James
Dr. James, Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 2286
Experience:  Eye Physician and Surgeon
Type Your Eye Question Here...
Dr. James is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Can hypothyroidism and alcoholism cause blindness in a 54

This answer was rated:

Can hypothyroidism and alcoholism cause blindness in a 54 year old man?

Was the blindness sudden or gradual? One or both eyes? Recent eye exam? Any surgeries?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Blindness has been gradual he has had eye exams and was told it was not glaucoma. His memory is bad and he can't remember if the Dr told him it was Mac degeneration and or damage to the optic nerve. Did an mri scan that showed a huge pineal cyst, but Radiologist said it was not the cause of the blindness. He is hypothyroid and has not been taking his thyroxine. Lost alot of weight; diet is terrible - drinks way too much and has for years
Thank you for the addition information. It is very helpful.

Alcoholism has a direct toxic effect on the liver. You might have heard that alcohol has a lot of "empty calories". This means calories, but not a lot of other nutrients -- vitamins and minerals. So many alcoholics have vitamin difienciency.

Nutritional deficiency can cause blindness through cataracts or optic atrophy. Cataracts would have been seen by his eye doctors already. Optic atrophy may be more subtle and more difficult to tell. It is a degeneration of the optic nerve (the connection between your eyes and brain). Macular degeneration is another cause, but easy to tell if advance.

I don't believe the hypothyroidism would cause his current vision problems.

I recommend you ask the doctor if he as any evidence of optic atrophy. If so, no treatment is available. The key is to prevent further damange through proper diet. If there are cataracts or glaucoma, that can be treated -- but he has already be tested for this.

Remember to press the green accept button. It was a pleasure helping you with your question. Feel free to ask any addtional questions.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks Dr. James - he was also told he might have to have cataract surg, which makes no sense if it is his optic nerve? He was told he would be completely blind by December. His memory is so poor that I can't be sure exactly what he was told. He has also been diagnosed with fatty liver; had hand tremors; been on beta blockers to stop that; but now that he has stopped the thyroxine, the shakes have stopped too. He is thin; lost all muscle tone; dry skin and hair; weak; evidence of dementia; dry eyes; and he looks like he is dying. At a loss as to what to do. Please respond
I recommend you have his primary doctor check his Vitamin A and Vitamin B levels. It can be a combination of cataracts optic atrophy. You can only guess as to how much the cataract is contributing. In his case, it would be reasonable to perform cataract surgery, with the understanding that the vision may still be the same.

His dry eyes can also be the cause of the vision decline as well as difficulty checking for glasses if the dementia is bad. I can feel your frustation.
-I recommend you start him on artificial tears 4-6 times a day.
-Lid scrubs with dilute baby shampoo using a q-tip (if you see debris on his eyelashes). -Ask the doctor how much the cataract is affection his vision (10%, 20%....)
-Have your doctor check is vitamin levels and supplement if needed.

Remember to press the accept button if I have been helpful.
Dr. James and other Eye Specialists are ready to help you