Does High Cholesterol Have an Impact on Eyesight?

Eyes can tell you a lot about a person’s character. And as it turns out, they can also tell you a lot about a person’s cholesterol, too. High cholesterol certainly isn’t a good thing. Too much cholesterol can adversely affect the heart and circulatory system and it can also spell trouble for your eyes. It can cause serious conditions and even vision loss. With proper screening and treatment, high cholesterol can be treated and eyesight can be preserved.

High Cholesterol Explained

Cholesterol is produced by the body in order to help support cell membranes, synthesize Vitamin D, and produce hormones. However, eating a diet high in animal products, like meats and dairy, can increase the amount of cholesterol in the body and lead to problems.

Cholesterol consists of two parts- LDLs and HDLs. LDLs, or low density lipoproteins, are the bad part of cholesterol. They cause plaque buildup in the arteries, which leads to atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, and eye problems. HDLs, or high density lipoproteins, are the good part of cholesterol. They help to break down the LDLs in the blood stream to prevent plaque buildup.

Why Cholesterol Matters for Your Eyes

It’s obvious why cholesterol is important for your heart and arteries, but what about the eyes? Problems in the arteries lead to problems in the blood vessels. The eyes need healthy blood vessels to have optimum functioning. Here are just a few eye conditions that can be caused by high cholesterol:

  • Corneal arcus: Too much cholesterol in the body can lead to deposits of fat and cholesterol in the eye, which causes a yellow, white, or gray ring around the cornea. This condition does not affect vision, but it is a big warning sign that cholesterol levels are too high and that there could be an underlying vascular problem that needs treating.
  • Xanthoma: Fat deposits from high cholesterol levels, called xanthomas, can occur around the eyes. These deposits occur under the skin and can be quite large and unpleasant. They can burst and cause further problems, but they don’t directly affect vision.
  • Retinal vein occlusion: Plaque buildup can affect the blood vessels in and around the eyes. The plaque can cause a blood clot in the blood vessel that travels from the retina, and this clot can block the blood vessel and even cause it to burst, which cuts off the blood supply to the retina. This process happens silently, and retinal vein occlusion usually results in partial or total loss of vision. Laser treatments and other medicines can sometimes help restore vision and prevent further damage.

Screening and Treatment Can Save Your Eyes

Since the blood vessels of the eyes, particularly the retina, are easily observed, they play a key role in diagnosing vascular disease and high cholesterol. Getting an annual eye exam is crucial in helping detect a cholesterol problem early so that it can be treated. Contact Advanced Eye Medical today to schedule your eye exam and don’t let high cholesterol leave you in the dark.