How Are Hair Loss and Eye Conditions Connected?

Senior man and woman with hair lossHair loss is a prevalent concern, affecting both men and women. Surprisingly, there may be a connection between hair loss and eye conditions. This intriguing link stems from healthy vision being closely tied to overall bodily health. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension are associated with declining eye health. The root causes of many chronic conditions, such as incomplete nutrition and chronic inflammation, can damage hair and impede hair growth. Certain autoimmune diseases can cause alopecia. Both an underactive and overactive thyroid can cause hair loss and affect the eyes. Menopause impacts both the eyes and hair. In this article, we will explore androgenetic alopecia, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, eyelash loss (madarosis), menopause, diet and vitamin deficiencies, and insights from Traditional Chinese Medicine.

What is Alopecia?

Alopecia is the loss of hair where it usually grows, such as from the scalp or other parts of the body.

Androgenetic Alopecia

The most common form of alopecia. In men, male pattern baldness has a genetic component and is triggered by testosterone changes often associated with aging. In women, hair thinning is caused by hormones, aging, and genetics.

A study looked at the relationships between androgenetic alopecia, the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) and conjunctival impression cytology (CIC). OSCI is an index that measures chronic dry eye severity. The results of this study showed that androgenetic alopecia was correlated with significant disturbances in conjunctival cytology and tear function. 1

Alopecia Areata

Another type of hair loss is a disorder of the immune system called alopecia areata. A small study found a whopping 84% of 32 patients had dry eyes. This relationship may be related to the inflammatory mechanisms causing alopecia areata that may trigger dry eye disease or vice versa. 2

Thyroid Disease, Eye Health, and Hair Loss

Hypo- and hyper- are opposites, but it’s clear that thyroid disorders are strongly associated with hormonal hair loss.3 The thyroid is a gland in the neck that maintains the body’s overall hormonal balance and ensures that various physiological processes function correctly. A simple blood test measures thyroid hormone levels. Both are treatable.

Hypothyroidism

Common in middle-aged women. The thyroid does not create enough hormones, resulting in fatigue, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, constipation, and unexplained weight gain. Hair often becomes dry or starts thinning. A tell-tale sign is finding excessive hair covering the drain after washing the hair. This hair loss might be caused by the skin cells malfunctioning, impeding the hair regrowth cycle.4

Hyperthyroidism

Can happen at any age. The thyroid produces too much hormone, causing unexpected weight loss, irregular or rapid heartbeat, irritability, sweating, dry and brittle hair, and possibly budging or puffy eyes. Seniors may have no symptoms. Hyperthyroidism, when left untreated, causes the body to produce free radicals that damage the hair and hair follicles.5

  • hyperthyroidism can be most visible in your eyebrows. If the outer third of your eyebrow starts looking patchy, your thyroid hormone levels may be too low. Thyroid Eye Disease (TED), and Graves’ ophthalmopathy, is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the eye muscles and fatty tissue behind the eye. Approximately 25% of patients with hyperthyroidism also have Thyroid Eye Disease. Symptoms may often appear as bulging of the eyes. Other symptoms include:
  • dry, gritty, red, or irritated eyes
  • double vision
  • puffy eyelids
  • eye pain or pressure
  • eyelids that pull back more than usual or don’t close all the way
  • sensitivity to light
  • trouble moving your eyes when you look around

Menopause, Hair Loss and Eye Conditions

Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause can cause several eye issues, including blurred vision and dry eyes. Also, hair loss can be a significant source of distress in older women.

Blurred Vision

Dropping estrogen levels can affect the cornea’s shape and thickness, resulting in blurry vision.

Dry Eyes

Around 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women experience dry eye syndrome. The body’s production of tear film components is affected by sex hormones such as estrogen and androgen.

Hair Loss Related to Menopause

About 40% of post-menopausal women experience hair loss. For most of these women, the hair thins all over the scalp. Some get hair loss in the temples or front. Aging and reduced estrogen make the hair finer due to shrinking hair follicles, and the body produces fewer hairs. Hairs may start shedding due to a thyroid hormone imbalance, iron deficiency, crash dieting, illness, or stress. Seniors take more medications, some of which cause hair loss. Skin and autoimmune conditions can flare up. Menopausal women often have multiple factors leading to hair loss.

Eyelash Loss is Hair Loss

The lashes that grow along the edge of the eyelid are hairs. Therefore, they are also subject to hair loss risk.

Rapid lash loss, also called madarosis, can be a symptom of an underlying health problem in the eye or in another part of the body. Common causes include:

  • blepharitis (often due to chronic dry eyes)
  • irritation from cosmetics
  • trichotillomania – a condition where emotional or psychological distress causes a person to pull out their own eyelashes habitually

Other less common causes of lash loss include less frequently

  • skin cancer of the eyelid
  • chronic or recurrent styes and chalazia
  • ocular rosacea
  • mites, bacterial or fungal infections in one or both eyes
  • chronic stress6
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • chronic inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • lupus
  • scleroderma
  • hormonal changes often related to peri-menopause and menopause
  • chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • side-effects of certain medications

How To Prevent Eyelash Loss

Wash your face and eyelids daily with gentle soap and water. Glands in the eyelid naturally lubricate lashes, so lotions and conditioners are not necessary unless lashes feel excessively dry.

Eat a healthy diet including vegetables, fruits and healthy protein sources.

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s View of the Eyes and Hair Loss

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the primary meridian overseeing healthy hair is the kidney meridian. Chinese Medicine perceives that energy flowing freely through the kidney meridian supports vision by nourishing the eyes. Kidney deficiency can contribute to eye issues, including congenital eye conditions such as myopia and strabismus, chronic eye diseases, and eye problems in the elderly, especially glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Taking a wild-crafted kidney tonic can help support overall health and energy as well.

Nutritional Causes of Hair Loss and Eye Disease

For small organs, the eyes require a disproportionate amount of nutrients. A large body of research confirms that your nutritional intake has a major impact on your eye health. Your hair’s growth, thickness, and texture largely depend on having the necessary nutrients available.

Iron Deficiency Anemia and Hair Loss

If you notice that your hair has become thin and is breaking off easily, you should check your diet. Excess shedding of hair while combing could mean that you are suffering from lack of iron. Your doctor can check for anemia easily.

Vitamin D

Low levels of Vitamin D have been implicated in hair loss as Vitamin D is involved in various signaling pathways of growth and differentiation of hair follicles. 7 A blood test detects low vitamin D levels. About 40% of Americans have insufficient Vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency also impacts vision health. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis, dry eye syndrome, and impaired tear function. 8 It can cause dry eyes, which can lead to eye symptoms which may include:

  • Redness, irritation and eye discomfort
  • Burning and gritty, sore, itchy eyes
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Transient blurring of vision

Foods high in Vitamin D: Fatty fish (such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese have small amounts of vitamin D, primarily in the form of vitamin D3. Mushrooms provide variable amounts of vitamin D2.

Poor Diet

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods, unhealthy fat, and red meat. SAD is also low in vegetables, fruits, nutrient-dense fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, and lean protein. Examples of nutrients and foods for healthy hair and nails include:

  • Biotin, a B vitamin found in egg yolks, legumes, organ meats, nuts, mushrooms, seeds, avocado, yeast and seeds.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) and Vitamin B12, from lean meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin A from organ meats, fish and fish oils, eggs, dairy products, carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, and pumpkins
  • Vitamin C is from citrus fruit, kale, many types of berries, kiwi, papaya, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, pineapple, cantaloupe, and red and green peppers.
  • Vitamin D from sunlight, fatty fish, fortified dairy, and egg yolks. This nutrient is especially difficult to get, especially in the North. Therefore, supplementing with Vitamin D3 may be needed.
  • Vitamin E from seeds, vegetable oils, nuts, avocados, spinach, broccoli, and other green vegetables.

Take a look at the menu at your favorite fast-food joint. Except for perhaps Subway and Chipotle, the nutrient breakdown is horrifying. Most restaurant food is served in large portions and is high in fat, salt, sugar, and simple carbohydrates. Order carefully or make healthy food at home. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive but can dramatically extend your healthy years. At Natural Eye Care, we recommend the Vision Diet, a Mediterranean diet variation.

Given that seniors have lower calorie needs and poorer nutrient absorption, supplements could be helpful.

Suggested Supplements


Vitamin D3 5,000 + K 60 softgels

Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula (whole food) 60 vcaps

Dr. Grossman’s Meso Plus Retinal Support and Computer Eye Strain Formula with Astaxanthin 90 vcaps

Dr. Grossman’s Advanced Eye and Dr. G’s Whole Food Superfood Multi1 20 Vcap Combo – 2 months supply

Kidney Support Tonic 4 oz

ReVision Formula (wild-crafted herbal formula) 2 oz – based on classic Chinese medicine Liver tonic formula to help support healthy circulation and blood flow throughout the eyes and body.

Advanced Eye & Vision Support + Revision Formula Combo

Dr. Grossman’s Vitamin C Plant-Based Formula – 60 caps

Lid Cleaning Support

OPTASE® Eyelid Wipes

LidHygenix Foam Eyelid Cleanser 1.60 f/oz (50ml)

Recommended Books

Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Healthy Vision and Healing

Natural Brain Support: Your Guide to Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Other Related Diseases Naturally

  1. Oltulu P, Oltulu R, Turk HB, Turk N, Kilinc F, Belviranli S, Mirza E, Ataseven A. The ocular surface findings in alopecia areata patients: clinical parameters and impression cytology. Int Ophthalmol. 2022 Jan;42(1):7-12. doi: 10.1007/s10792-021-01991-y. Epub 2021 Jul 31.
  2. Ergin C, Acar M, Kaya Akış H, Gönül M, Gürdal C. Ocular findings in alopecia areata. Int J Dermatol. 2015 Nov;54(11):1315-8. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12897. Epub 2015 Jul 3.
  3. Hussein, R. S., Atia, T., & Dayel, S. B. (2023). Impact of Thyroid Dysfunction on Hair Disorders. Cureus, 15(8).
  4. Dawber RP, Simpson NB, Barth JH. Diseases of the Hair and Scalp. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science; 1997. Diffuse alopecia: Endocrine, metabolic and chemical influences on the follicular cycle; pp. 123–150.
  5. Mogulkoc R, Baltaci AK, Oztekin E, Aydin L, Sivrikaya A. Melatonin prevents oxidant damage in various tissues of rats with hyperthyroidism. Life Sci. 2006 Jun 13;79(3):311-5. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2006.01.009. Epub 2006 Feb 7.
  6. Can stress cause hair loss? Answer From Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. Mayo Clinic website accessed 5/30/24. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress-and-hair-loss/faq-20057820
  7. Saini K, Mysore V. Role of vitamin D in hair loss: A short review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021 Nov;20(11):3407-3414. doi: 10.1111/jocd.14421. Epub 2021 Sep 22.
  8. Daldal H, Gokmen Salici A. Ocular Findings Among Patients With Vitamin D Deficiency. Cureus. 2021 May 21;13(5):e15159. doi: 10.7759/cureus.15159.