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Can Cholesterol Affect Your Eyes?

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Can Cholesterol Affect Your Eyes?

High cholesterol can affect more than just your heart! It can also affect your eyes, as well, resulting in yellow deposits around your eyelids. To learn more about this condition and other ways your eyes can be affected by cholesterol levels, take a look below.

High Cholesterol and Xanthelasma

Cholesterol is essential for the natural production of things like bile salts, steroid hormones and vitamin D in the body. There are different types of cholesterol, both good and bad, that move around your body. When the balance between good and bad cholesterol is off, cholesterol deposits can develop throughout the body. This includes deposits in and around your eyes.

The most common way that cholesterol affects your eyes is the appearance of miniscule yellow-colored deposits of fat in the skin around your eyes, especially in the upper eyelids and the inner parts of the eyelids, in the area of the nose. These are known as xanthelasma.

Xanthelasma doesn’t occur in everyone with high cholesterol, but its presence can be used as an indicator of this condition even in people with no family or personal history of it.

Risk factors for xanthelasma include:

  • Obesity.
  • Heart disease.
  • Smoking.
  • Heavy drinking.
  • Pancreatitis.

Symptoms Of Xanthelasma

Xanthelasma is usually a cosmetic issue that doesn’t cause any pain. However, in certain cases, they can become problematic.

Atherosclerosis and Hollenhorst Plaque

When a person has high cholesterol, they can develop a condition known as atherosclerosis in which plaque begins to build up on the walls of their blood vessels, restricting flow of blood throughout the body..

In some cases, built up plaque breaks off, travels through the body and gets lodged in the small blood vessels in your eye’s retina. When this occurs, it is known as Hollenhorst plaque. It can cause serious damage to your eyes and vision, including severe vision loss.

Arcus senilis

The cornea is the clear layer of the eye, protecting the iris. Sometimes high cholesterol can cause a grayish or white ring to develop at the sides of the cornea. This is called arcus senilis, or corneal arcus. It is not painful and it does affect your vision, but it is a signal that your cholesterol is higher than it should be.

Fighting High Cholesterol

These issues are not limited to your eyes. They’re a symptom of a larger problem in the body: high cholesterol. Healthcare professionals agree that one of the leading ways to deal with problems related to cholesterol is adopting a diet that is low in fat. This includes eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods where possible. Diets such as the Mediterranean Diet, which has a healthy mix of fiber, protein and healthy fats, can help put your overall health back on the right track.

When To See Your Doctor

Even if these issues don’t cause you problems with your vision or any pain or discomfort, you shouldn’t ignore them. They are a sign of larger issues that can be potentially life-threatening if not treated properly and promptly. As soon as you notice these issues, you should speak with your doctor. The sooner it’s treated, the better.

At Child & Family Eye Care, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 281-363-4362 or book an appointment online to see one of our The Woodlands eye doctors.

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