High Cholesterol Effects on Eyes

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  1. Macular edema, a condition in which fluid leaks into the retina (especially the area that allows for sharp focus) or macula (an oval-shaped pigmented area close to the retina’s center).
  2. Glaucoma, optic nerve damage due to increased pressure.
  3. Other poorly-controlled chronic conditions such as high blood sugar (diabetes) and high blood pressure.
  4. Problem or disorder of blood clotting.
  5. Age (over the age of 60) and smoking can also increase the risk of retinal vein occlusion.

This eye problem can pose the risk of other health conditions. The good news, it is treatable – especially true if it has not become advanced (the prognosis depends on the severity of the condition).

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Stroke and vision problem

The buildup of cholesterol plaque may develop in the blood vessel carrying blood to the brain.  Over time the blood supply to important areas of the brain declines or even could be completely blocked. This may lead to medical emergency condition such as stroke.

The symptoms of stroke can vary. One of them is blackened vision, blurred vision, or sometimes double vision. Other symptoms include:

  1. Poor in balance or sudden loss of coordination.
  2. Dizziness or severe headache that is sudden in onset.
  3. Dropping mouth or eyelid on just one side.
  4. Inability to move leg or hand just one side of the body.
  5. Slurring words or/and confusion.

If you have some of these stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical help!

Xanthelasma

It is a rare skin condition in which certain fats build up under the surface of the skin, typically characterized by yellowish patches on the corners of the eyelids (more often on the upper lid, though the patches can also be found on the lower lid).

Although it is usually harmless and will not affect your vision seriously, its appearance can be very bothersome!  Some experts say that it may also contribute to increase the risk of heart disease, though this issue is still debatable.

Interestingly, it’s not always associated with high cholesterol. But about 50 percent of all cases occur in people with high cholesterol. In general, the risk factors of the conditions are as follows:

  1. If you have low HDL and high LDL.
  2. If you have familial hypercholesterolemia.
  3. If you’re diagnosed with another condition that can easily drive your cholesterol to rise, such as primary biliary cirrhosis (a kind of liver disease).
Arcus senilis

It is a white /gray arc visible below and above the cornea. The arc may eventually form a complete ring around the iris. The good news, it is usually not serious and will not affect your vision.

The chance to have the condition increases with age, particularly after 50. Although it occurs due to lipid (fat) deposits deep in the edge of the eye’s cornea – in general, it is not linked to high cholesterol. But if it occurs before age of 50, this may signal familial hyperlipidemia, hyperlipoproteinemia, or hypercholesterolemia.

Citations /references:

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/high-blood-cholesterol-and-triglycerides/complications.html
  2. http://www.healthline.com/health/retinal-vein-occlusion
  3. http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/xanthelasma
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/arcus-senilis/faq-20058306

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