High Cholesterol and Its Effects on Human Eye Sight

Cholesterol is a waxy substance which is naturally found in the human bloodstream. But high cholesterol levels lead to many health problems such as cardiac problems, strokes, liver problems etc. not only this high cholesterol may also affect the vision and eyes of a person.

It is normal to have a fatty, yellowish lumpy deposit around eyes. This yellowish lump around eyes is formed due to cholesterol deposition and it is usually harmless because it does not form regularly. But sometimes this fatty deposition might affect eyesight and can point to other serious conditions.

This article explains how high cholesterol can harm your vision, what are its symptoms, treatment and how one can prevent this condition.

Formation of Xanthelasma and High Cholesterol:

Cholesterol can cause fatty growths around the eyelids which are called as the Xanthelasma. This fatty growth around the eyelids does not have any significant cause but it indicates towards high cholesterol or liver conditions. In some cases, Xanthelasma can affect the vision of a person, which is why it is necessary to treat this condition.

High Cholesterol - Eye sight

Xanthelasma forms due to depositions of cholesterol which appears as a yellowish, soft, flat lump. It appears on the upper and lower eyelids, inner eye corners and even symmetrically around both eyes. The size of Xanthelasma remains the same over the period of time or it grows slowly. Sometimes these lumps are joined together resulting in a larger lump.

These lumps around the eyes are not painful or itchy but they might sometimes affect the vision/eyesight. It is very rare when someone’s vision is affected by the deposition of cholesterol. Also, Xanthelasma may lead to the dropping of the eyelids when smaller lumps join together to form a larger lump or increases in number.

According to a study conducted on cholesterol levels, it is revealed that Xanthelasma or cholesterol deposition around eyelids is directly associated with health problems such as heart diseases. The study also showed that Xanthelasma may also indicate cardiac problems in people who have normal lipid levels.

Causes of Xanthelasma Formation Around the Eyelids:

The formation of Xanthelasma around the eyelids and eye corners is due to the deposition of cholesterol. Cholesterol deposition can start at any age but it appears more often during the middle years. The condition is more common among women as compared to men.

Although the exact causes and factors of Xanthelasma are not known because it is the deposition of cholesterol, therefore, physicians and doctors believe that one of the causes of Xanthelasma formation is dyslipidemia. It is a condition in which our blood contains abnormal lipid levels. The condition results in high cholesterol and deposition of plaques inside the walls of arteries & veins. The plaque formation can also occur in the vessels around the eyes which affects the vision. Drooping of eyelids due to the formation of Xanthelasma also effects the vision/eyesight of the persons.

Hence the factors which cause Dyslipidemia can also lead to the formation of Xanthelasma around the eyes.

Some of the major causes/reasons of Dyslipidemia are listed below which includes:

  • Elevated levels of “Bad” cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL ) cholesterol in the bloodstream
  • Low levels of “Good” cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the blood.
  • Elevated levels of both LDL and HDL in the blood leading to a total increase in the blood cholesterol levels.
  • Presence of high triglycerides level in blood.
  • Persons who have a family history of hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia can also have Xanthelasma.
  • Lipoprotein Lipase Deficiency – a genetic disorder which can also contribute towards the formation of yellowish, soft and flat lumps around eyes.
  • Diabetes can also be a cause of Xanthelasma formation.
  • Chronic kidney diseases, primary biliary cirrhosis or other liver diseases may also contribute.
  • High blood pressure and hypothyroidism.
  • Cardiac problems or stroke problems.
  • Some medications such as oral contraceptives, retinoids, beta blockers, and anabolic steroids are the major cause of dyslipidemia and xanthelasma formation.

In addition to the above-mentioned causes/factors, there are some secondary factors which can also cause the formation of Xanthelasma or affect the vision in case of high cholesterol. These secondary factors are directly associated with the lifestyle a person enjoys.

The factors include:

  1. High consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol diet.
  2. Less use of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  3. Obesity or over-weight.
  4. Lack of physical activity, exercise or walk.
  5. Excessive or uncontrolled consumption of alcohol.
  6. Excessive smoking or other tobacco products.
  7. Irregular diet/food habits/patterns.

Treatment and Diagnosis:

Xanthelasma is associated with many health problems such as high cholesterol, dyslipidemia, cardiac problems or stroke. Therefore It is very important for the patients to get proper treatment of xanthelasma. Persons who have xanthelasma formation must reach out to their doctors who can further suggest/recommend them for lipid and cholesterol level screening etc.

In most of the cases, the formation of xanthelasma does not affect or harm the vision or eyes of the person. But there are few cases in which the vision of the eyes are blurred or gets affected due to xanthelasma or cholesterol deposition. Therefore in addition to the lipid and cholesterol screening, the doctors also perform a visual examination.

High Cholesterol - Eye sight

Sometimes a visual examination is not enough and the doctors take the scarping of the lumps and tests the scrapping in the laboratory for better and clear diagnosis. Xanthelasma is itself a sign or symptom of many health problems and therefore its treatment is necessary.

Xanthelasma or cholesterol deposition around the eyes can be removed surgically. However, the method of surgically removal or xanthelasma may vary depending on the location, size or nature/characteristics of the cholesterol deposit.

Usually, there are 5 ways to remove the cholesterol deposition:

  • Through surgical excision.
  • Chemical cauterization.
  • Cryotherapy.
  • Electrodesiccation.
  • Carbon dioxide and argon laser ablation.

The surgical procedure may cause swelling, bruising, change in skin color or scarring. The removal of cholesterol deposits is not permanent and it reoccurs after the removal due to high cholesterol or dyslipidemia. To prevent the cholesterol deposition around the eyelids it is necessary to control the cholesterol levels and treating dyslipidemia.

The treatment of dyslipidemia and high cholesterol can not only prevent the formation of xanthelasma but also reduces the risk of affected eye visions, cardiac problems, and strokes. One way to prevent cholesterol deposition and high cholesterol is controlling the diet.

A balanced and healthy diet can increase the level of good cholesterol in the body and decreases the level of bad cholesterol. To avid high cholesterol or cholesterol deposition around the eyes there are certain precautions which are listed below:

Weight Loss: High cholesterol is common among obese or over-weight persons and therefore such persons have high risks of cholesterol deposition around their eyes. Their cholesterol level increases due to the elevated levels of LDL and triglycerides. Hence to avoid any kind of cholesterol deposition, it is very important to reduce the weight and overall body mass index.

Adopt a Healthy and Balanced Diet: A healthy or balanced diet means consuming food which has low saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. The dietician also prohibits people with high cholesterol level to eat red meat and full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, butter, cheese, cakes, and cookies etc. Such persons are recommended to eat more vegetables, beans, lentils and other pulses which are rich in soluble fiber, fruits, whole grains, fish, etc.

Regular Exercise and Physical Activity: Regular physical activity, exercise, and walk are very essential for a healthy life. Exercise and walk also help in preventing High Cholesterol and dyslipidemia. Exercise increases the level of HDL cholesterol and decreases the level of LDL cholesterol in our bloodstream. It leads to a lower level of cholesterol level and hence no deposition of cholesterol. Physical activity such as cycling, running, swimming and brisk walking all contributes towards good health, maintain body weight and prevents high cholesterol and cholesterol deposition.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumptions is also a leading factor in elevating the cholesterol level in our blood stream. The United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that men should not consume more than two drinks while women should consume one drink per day.

Quit or Reduce Smoking: Smoking also damages the lining of arteries and veins and hence accumulation of cholesterol is easier in the damaged arteries. This accumulation can affect the vision, cause heart attacks or stroke. To avoid any kind of distress and discomfort people should avoid smoking. Those who excessively smoke should reduce it and eventually quitting smoking.

Proper Lipid and Cholesterol Lowering Medications: medications are also available for treating abnormal levels of lipids and cholesterol in the blood. But these medications are prescribed only by the doctors and not every person’s needs the medication treat high cholesterol condition. It is strictly prohibited to take any medication without the prescription of the doctor.


Although cholesterol deposition (xanthelasma) is not painful or itchy. But this is the symptom/indicator of other diseases. Also, this lump formation can hinder or affect the vision of your eye if remains untreated. It is essential to get treatment for cholesterol deposition and we should take preventive measures to avoid any other health problems.
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