High Cholesterol And Its Impact On Oral Health

While problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure are pressing concerns for eyesight, high cholesterol can also highly impact your eyes. High cholesterol occurs when you have too much fat in your bloodstream, caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. High cholesterol in your body begins to block the blood vessels, leading to heart problems later in life. 

For those with high cholesterol, it’s essential to pay attention to any signs of problems with your body, including how your eyes function. By noticing signs early on, your eye care team can help treat your eyesight and ensure that you remain healthy.

How Does High Cholesterol Impact Your Eye Sight?

High cholesterol in your blood vessels can cause immediate problems when plaque reaches your eyes. Underlying conditions can impact your eyesight, but looking out for early warning symptoms when paying attention to your cholesterol is essential for keeping your eyes healthy. These include: 

  • Arcus Senilis: Defined as bluish rings that appear along the outside of the cornea, arcus senilis is a benign symptom that usually occurs with old age. However, it’s often the most common symptom as it’s caused by cholesterol deposits into the cornea. 
  • Xanthelasma: As another sign of high cholesterol, this condition refers to soft, yellowish elevations along the skin near the eyes and nose. It’s also benign but can also indicate future problems down the road. 
  • Hollenhorst Plaque: A potentially serious and blinding problem, Hollenhorst Plaque refers to plaque that builds up inside the small arteries of the eye. This condition usually occurs in the carotid artery and causes death to the eye tissues and strokes if not treated immediately.

These symptoms typically precede or indicate problems with eyesight related to high cholesterol. Having unmanaged high cholesterol can lead to many eye problems later on in life if not managed with a healthy lifestyle. These symptoms usually lead to three very severe conditions: 

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration: AMD causes the middle of the retina to die off or become massively damaged, causing loss of vision. It’s typically preceded by fatty lipid deposits in the retina and affects over 60,000 people yearly. 
  • Retinal Vein Occlusion: Retinal vein occlusion occurs when the lipids break the blood vessel wall, causing temporary or permanent vision problems. Because our arteries supply oxygen to our body, this condition can often be irreversible if caught in its later stages. 
  • Systemic Conditions: Signs of cholesterol around the eyes are often a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, especially in those 40 and older. 

How To Best Protect Your Eyes From High Cholesterol

High cholesterol can be prevented with a healthy diet, good hydration, and regular exercise each day. Maintaining good nutrition, including vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants and vitamins, can help protect your veins from plaque buildup, and exercising at least 30 minutes per day can help lower your cholesterol numbers. Most of all, visiting your eye doctor can help protect your eyesight from chronic eye conditions, keeping your vision sharp and clean for life. 


Dr. Paul D. Trapeni JrAt The Optical Shoppe, we're dedicated to optometry excellence under the guidance of Dr. Paul D Trapeni. Serving the Smyrna community since 1989, Dr. Trapeni is a trusted member of the community, bringing general and specialized optometry care to individuals and families throughout the area.