Eye Damage Caused by High Cholesterol

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high cholesterol eye damage

Your eye doctor cares not only for your vision but also overall body health and will look out for warning signs during an annual eye examination.

Studies have linked hypertension with changes to retinal vessels (hypertensive retinopathy). The Beaver Dam study demonstrated that hypertensives were 50%-70% more likely than normal individuals to suffer hemorrhages, microaneurysms, and focal areas of arteriolar narrowing than their nonhypertensive peers.

1. Dry Eye Syndrome

Cholesterol may have a poor reputation due to its links with heart disease, but it can also have adverse effects on eyes. When too much cholesterol builds up in the body, it can lead to dry eye syndrome – including symptoms such as discomfort, stinging or scratchy sensation in eyes, stringy mucus production, reddening of eyelids, blurred vision and watery eyes. Contact lenses may cause further issues; more common among those living with rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma diabetes and other eye conditions.

Dry eye syndrome occurs due to inadequate tear production or production being reduced due to inadequate tear production. Blinking helps keep the surface moist; when natural oils in the tear film evaporate it can lead to discomfort in the form of eye discomfort and other symptoms; people who spend significant amounts of time using computers or electronic devices, smokers, people living with chronic dry eye syndrome and older adults are at an increased risk of suffering this condition.

Reducing electronic device usage, using artificial tears and taking regular breaks away from screens may all help alleviate symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Eye drops that help conserve tear film production can also help relieve symptoms; for severe conditions a doctor can recommend treatments that will minimize further damage and lessen discomfort.

If you experience persistent dry eye symptoms, make an appointment with your optometrist immediately. They can provide guidance to reduce symptoms such as wearing protective eyewear when outdoors, decreasing computer screen usage and increasing blinking rates, as well as suggesting lifestyle changes to decrease risk such as eating more omega-3 rich foods (xanthelasma). Lifestyle modifications alone should suffice in preventing serious problems caused by high cholesterol. Furthermore, high cholesterol can contribute to other serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease and stroke.

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve that transmits visual information between your eyes and brain, often leading to vision loss or blindness. The condition is caused by too much fluid formation or blocked drainage of fluid out of the eye resulting in increased pressure within it; while anyone over 60 or with family histories of glaucoma are more prone than those without such histories; African American and Hispanic people also seem more at risk than others for developing it.

According to research published in JAMA Ophthalmology, high cholesterol levels can increase your risk of glaucoma. Researchers found that for every 20 milligram per deciliter of blood increase in total cholesterol was linked with an additional 7 percent increased risk of glaucoma; they also discovered regular use of statins (a type of medication designed to lower cholesterol), reduced this risk by 17 percent.

There are various types of glaucoma, but the most prevalent form is called primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). It gradually develops over time without showing symptoms initially. Another type is acute or angle-closure glaucoma; this form comes on quickly due to blocked drainage channels in the eye causing blurred vision, redness and pain in the eye, rainbow halos around lights, headaches, nausea and vomiting as it progresses quickly.

Normal or low-tension glaucoma (NOLG), which shares many symptoms with POAG but occurs at normal intraocular pressure levels, poses more of a threat of blindness than its two predecessors. More common in older people but can affect people of any age group, it should be checked for regularly by having eye exams to ensure early diagnosis; early treatment with medicated eye drops is usually available but surgery may be needed for more advanced forms.

3. Retinal Vein Occlusion

Retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a condition that can quickly and painlessly disrupt one eye’s vision, caused by blood clots in the retina – the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye that lines its surface with light sensitive tissue lining it – becoming blocked with blood. Retinal V Occlusion typically impacts central, peripheral, depth perception or color vision – it’s the second leading cause of blood vessel-related vision loss after diabetic Retinopathy.

The retina consists of light-sensitive cells that transmit images to our brain through an optic nerve, and focus light onto cornea and lens for clarity of vision. Blood vessels surrounding the retina called veins transport oxygen directly to retinal cells – any obstruction in these veins by blood clots could have catastrophic results for eye health.

Occlusion occurs due to a blockage in one of the tiny veins connected to the retinal artery, typically the branch retinal vein (BRVO), although clots in either of the central retinal veins (CRVO) may lead to more serious visual damage and lead to mild-moderate vision loss respectively.

Blood clots in retinal veins may lead to leakage of fluid into the retina and result in macular edema – swelling that is visible via optical coherence tomography (OCT) instruments. Depending on how severe an obstruction may be, macular edema may or may not progress further.

Fluid from leaked capillaries may leak onto the retina surface and form new blood vessels, potentially leading to further retina damage or blocking outflow from your eyeball resulting in high eye pressure (neovascular glaucoma).

As such, it is crucial that you remain mindful of your cholesterol levels and take measures to lower high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity – conditions which increase your risk for eye problems. Regular eye exams are important in detecting any early symptoms, like retinal vein occlusion. As soon as any symptoms appear they should be addressed immediately.

4. Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when blood vessel changes occur within the retina (light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye). This may result in leakage or poor blood circulation leading to leakage or poor flow and ultimately blindness, and affect people living with type 1 and 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes (which develops during gestation), high blood pressure and cholesterol, or other medical conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Diabetic Retinopathy typically doesn’t impact vision until later stages when tiny specks of blood called “floaters” begin appearing within their field of vision causing vision impairment and possible blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy can often be traced back to elevated blood sugar levels over a sustained period of time, which damage small blood vessels that provide nourishment for the retina. Over time, as one ages with diabetes, the damage worsens. Other contributing factors could include poor glucose control, smoking, high cholesterol levels and poorly managed high blood pressure – these could all worsen it further. Diabetics may also suffer from an accumulation of fat-like deposits known as Drusen on their retina which contribute to diabetic Retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy symptoms range from mild to severe, causing blurry and distorted vision. At its early stage – non-proliferative diabetic Retinopathy or (NPDR), fluid builds up due to weak and broken blood vessels which bleed or swell causing fluid build up in the eye which leads to blurry or distorted vision and reading and driving being difficult. Sometimes fluid leaks from damaged vessels and collects within vitreous humor (a clear gel located inside eyeball), leading to light flashes or blackouts known as photopsias.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy occurs when blockages to blood flow to the retina force the body to try to form new blood vessels to overcome and replace those which have become blocked, but these new vessels often do not form properly, leading to leakage or bleeding; worse still, abnormal scar-like structures may form and ultimately result in permanent blindness.

An effective way to combat diabetic retinopathy and avoid vision loss is through regular dilated eye exams performed by an experienced physician. This will allow the doctor to monitor changes in your condition and identify when any worsening occurs.

About the Author:
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Alexander Suprun

Alex started his first web marketing campaign in 1997 and continues harvesting this fruitful field today. He helped many startups and well-established companies to grow to the next level by applying innovative inbound marketing strategies. For the past 26 years, Alex has served over a hundred clients worldwide in all aspects of digital marketing and communications. Additionally, Alex is an expert researcher in healthcare, vision, macular degeneration, natural therapy, and microcurrent devices. His passion lies in developing medical devices to combat various ailments, showcasing his commitment to innovation in healthcare.


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