Health A to Z Last updated on 2022-10-13 15:58:42
High cholesterol: Do not ignore these three signs in your eyes
- Dr. Swati Kaktikar
- 3 Min Read
- Fact Checked
We know high cholesterol affects our hearts. But did you know that it affects your eyes too?
Yes, you heard that right. Some common signs include changes in the appearance of your eyes and the areas surrounding them.
In this article, we'll understand how high cholesterol affects your eyes and how to spot them early.
How cholesterol affects your eyes?Cholesterol is a waxy substance naturally produced in your body, and in itself isn't bad for your health. It aids in regulating cell functions and synthesizing steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids.
But cholesterol can also come from your diet, especially from foods rich in sugar and saturated fats causing an excessive build-up of cholesterol in your blood vessels, clogging them. As a result, you may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw pain etc.
Sometimes, cholesterol can also deposit in blood vessels present in the eyes. And when that happens, you may experience one or more of the symptoms mentioned in the below section.
Early signs to look out forEarly signs of high cholesterol in the eyes include
- Changes in the colour of your eyes
- Blurry vision
- Yellowish fatty deposits in your eyelids
- Dark spots or lines in your vision (floaters: when you see floaters, you can see what appears like dark spots, lines, or webs drifting in front of your eyes)
- Change in vision in one eye
- Pain in the affected eye
Cholesterol-related eye conditionsFollowing are some common cholesterol-related eye conditions:
(1) XanthelasmaPeople with this condition have cholesterol deposits under their skin. It looks like a raised or flat yellowish growth or patches surrounding your eyes in areas close to the nose.
This condition does not affect your vision and isn't harmful. But if you don't like the way they look, an eye doctor can help you get rid of them.
Even though Xanthelasma won't hurt, it could be a sign that you're more likely to get heart disease. So don't ignore this skin condition and get it checked by your doctor.
Xanthelasma may be caused by obesity, smoking, excessive drinking, pancreatitis or an underlying heart condition.
(2) Retinal artery occlusion (eye stroke) and retinal vein occlusionHere, high cholesterol levels cause plaques on the inner walls of the blood vessels, which blocks blood flow to the optic nerve and the retina. As a result, you may notice a partial or complete loss of vision, blurry/distorted vision, or blind spots.
Retinal vessel occlusion is caused by a blood clot in the eye. Sometimes, blood clots can also come from another part of the body.
Other factors causing this condition are being 40 or older, being a man (men are at higher risk), obesity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and carotid artery disease.
(3) Arcus senilisIt's another eye condition that is caused by cholesterol deposits in the eye. It looks like a white ring surrounding the cornea (the brown/black part of the eye), but the arc may also be partial, having a dome-like structure.
Arcus senilis mostly occurs in older adults, and it doesn't affect vision, nor does it require any treatment. But if the ring appears in young adults, it could mean they have high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
So don't ignore this condition, and get checked by a doctor.
Treating cholesterol conditions in your eyesWhile these issues affect your eyes, remember they are a symptom of a larger problem: high cholesterol.
High cholesterol levels are often termed as silent killers. This is because they usually don’t manifest any symptoms until it’s too late. Therefore, the only sure way to know you have high cholesterol is by getting preventive health checkups done, such as a lipid profile test.
Further, managing or even preventing this condition from occurring in the first place involves making healthier choices in life — by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep.
While you should always consult your doctor or a nutritionist for a healthy diet plan tailor-made for you, following this obesity diet chart is a good place to start. With a healthy mix of carbs, protein, and fats, you'd improve your overall health and well-being.
MedicationIn some cases, your doctor may request you to begin medication therapy to help lower your cholesterol levels. Some examples include:
- Bile acid sequestrants
SurgeryYou don't typically need to undergo surgery to remove excess cholesterol. However, in some cases of Xanthelasma, some people opt for cosmetic surgery to remove fatty deposits from under the skin.
Other laser treatments may also be possible, but you need to talk to your doctor about that.
When to see your doctorBecause these issues with your eyes are a symptom of a larger health concern, you shouldn't ignore them, even if you don't feel pain.
As soon as you notice them, consult your doctor. The sooner you do, the sooner you can work on lowering your cholesterol.
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