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Hypothyroidism, cataracts

Created date

March 20th, 2012

Q.I have hypothyroidism. I like to take natural thyroid medicines rather than synthetic ones like Synthroid. What s the difference between them?

A.Natural thyroid formulations are made from the dried thyroid glands of pigs or cows. Although they are available by prescription, as of the date of this writing they are not FDA approved; only levothyroxine (Synthroid) is approved for hypothyroidism. Although natural thyroid formulations may meet certain standards with regard to potency, the balance of thyroid hormones in animal glands is different from human levels, and different batches of animal-based thyroid may contain varying amounts of the hormones. You should be carefully monitored for the therapeutic effectiveness of natural thyroid medicine. Check with your doctor or see an endocrinologist for a full evaluation.

Q. My doctor said my cataracts are so bad that I need surgery. At 87 years of age, I am rather hesitant about going under the knife. Is cataract surgery dangerous?

A. Some cataracts stay small, but others can get quite large and affect your vision something that can be especially dangerous as you age. Cataract surgery is very safe. It is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S. and carries a 90% success rate. The procedure usually lasts under an hour and is practically painless. You will have your eye numbed, but you may also choose to have some sedation. Any surgery carries risks such as bleeding or infection. In addition, cataract surgery raises your risk (although very slightly) of retinal detachment. Talk to your regular doctor and your eye doctor about your specific risks and any medication adjustments that might be necessary prior to the procedure. Ultimately, of course, the decision to have surgery is up to you. 

Vrinda Suneja, M.D.

Medical Director,  Fox Run 

Novi, Mich.

Dr. Suneja received her medical degree at Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, India. She then completed her residency in internal medicine at Sinai Grace Hospital, affiliated with Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. Board certified in internal medicine, Suneja joined Run in November 2003.