Cholesterol and Your Eyes and Vision

Can having high cholesterol levels have an effect on your eye and vision health?
Answer: High cholesterol can affect the eyes and vision, and the ramifications can be anything from benign and cosmetic to devastating, irreversible blindness.
Cholesterol plays an important role in human tissue; it is a component of cell membranes and the precursor for the manufacture of steroids and other hormones (chemical signals used for a wide variety of bodily functions) and it is important in the production of bile, an acid used in the digestion of fats. However, too much cholesterol—specifically, too much Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)—can have devastating consequences to both systemic and ocular health.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is used to carry cholesterol from artery walls to the liver and is thus often considered the “good” cholesterol, while LDL transports cholesterol to artery walls and body tissue. For this reason, elevated LDL levels are considered a risk to health, as cholesterol buildup can narrow arterial walls, and parts of a cholesterol plaque can break off and block smaller arteries downstream, leading to a loss of function of the area supplied by the affected artery. When this artery is in the heart, it can lead to a heart attack. In the brain, it is a stroke. And in the eye, it is referred to as an retinal artery occlusion.
One ocular sign of high cholesterol is a bluish ring that forms near the outside of the cornea, the otherwise clear, front part of the eye. These rings,  called “arcus senilis,” appear most commonly with age as more cholesterol gets deposited into the cornea. Arcus senillis is benign and does not interfere with vision, however it may signal high cholesterol;  if you or a family member shows this sign, it would be prudent to get a lipid panel test from your physician. Another sign are small, soft, yellowish elevations of skin above the eyes and near the nose, called xanthelasma. These are also benign though they can (but not always) indicate high cholesterol……..
Read more: http://www.sunyopt.edu/health-insights/cholesterol-and-your-eyes-and-vision
Source: State University of New York College of Optometry

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