Three Eye Health Concerns For People With High Cholesterol

If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it's important that you understand that this condition can affect many parts of your body, including your eyes. Understanding some of the risks that your eyes face is the first step toward protecting your long-term eye health. Work with an optometrist who understands these conditions and can screen for them regularly.

Corneal Arcus

This condition is typically associated with patients who have extremely high blood cholesterol levels. It causes a series of deposits that form a ring around the circumference of the cornea. The deposits are usually gray, yellowish or off-white in color. You won't typically find that the condition interferes with your vision at all, and the best treatment options include direct treatment of the underlying health problem causing it. It has been connected to patients with high cholesterol or diabetes. If your optometrist detects corneal arcus and you don't have a diagnosis of either of these conditions, you should talk with your primary care physician about testing.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Retinal vein occlusion, a vascular condition of the eye, is a serious concern for patients with high cholesterol. Cholesterol lines your blood vessels, and the vessels in your eyes aren't immune to this. When the buildup of cholesterol inside the blood vessels of your eyes reaches a certain point, it can actually block that vessel from your retina.

This can hinder or completely cut off blood supply to the retina. It will also lead to increased pressure in the vessel, potentially causing the vessel to burst. If this happens, you may lose vision in the eye. In most situations, the symptoms will appear suddenly as partial loss of vision or blurry spots in your vision. Your optometrist can recommend laser treatments to help combat this problem if caught before the vessel bursts.


Xanthomas are soft, yellow bumps on your skin created from fatty deposits under the skin's surface. They can happen around most any part of the body, including joints and tendons, but they can also occur around the eyes. They aren't harmful on their own, but they can be an indication of significantly high cholesterol levels, which can be dangerous for your cardiovascular health. If your eye doctor notices deposits like this, it's essential to have your cholesterol levels tested as soon as possible.

As you can see, there are several ways that high cholesterol can affect your vision and your eye health. The more you know about these conditions, the sooner you can seek help if you see signs or symptoms. Routine visits with an optometrist can help you to identify some of these things in the early stages, allowing you to treat them early.