High cholesterol symptoms: The uncommon signs in your eyes that your levels are too high
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Can you see that? Changes to your vision can be a sign your cholesterol is creeping up to dangerous levels. These are three unusual symptoms of high cholesterol affecting your eyes and eyesight.
High cholesterol levels are a sign that you need to make some lifestyle changes – and quickly – before you become high-risk for a heart attack or stroke.
According to the British Heart Foundation, high levels of cholesterol are associated with one in four deaths from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance in your blood. The body actually needs cholesterol for several functions, but when you have too much of it it can block your blood vessels, putting you at risk of serious diseases.
The main causes behind high cholesterol are fatty diets, lack of exercise, being overweight, smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Although many people in the UK have high cholesterol levels, it can be really hard to spot because there are few obvious symptoms.
Most people will be diagnosed with high cholesterol after a blood test from their GP.
Did you know symptoms of high cholesterol can affect your eyes? These are the signs you should – literally – look out for.
Yellow lumps near the eye
If you notice raised yellow-ish bumps of skin near your eyes, or the bridge of your nose, this could be a sign of high cholesterol.
These lumps are called xanthelasmas and they are caused by deposits of cholesterol beneath the skin.
They won’t affect your vision, but they are the most common eye symptom of high cholesterol: so be sure to go and get a cholesterol test if you suspect you’ve got xanthelasmas.
Your eyes change colour
Your iris is the coloured part of your eye, around your pupil. If you notice another coloured ring – most likely blue, grey or white – develop around your iris, you may have high cholesterol.
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This phenomenon is called arcus senilis and is caused by cholesterol reaching your cornea, the clear outer layer of your eye.
Not everyone who develops arcus senilis has high cholesterol, but it’s worth getting checked out if you notice this unusual change to your eyes.
Blurry vision or loss of sight in one eye
High levels of cholesterol can lead to a blockage in the vein that supplies blood to your retina, the back bit of your eye that detects light.
If this vein becomes blocked it can cause an event called a retinal vein occlusion, sometimes referred to as an ‘eye stroke’.
The symptoms of retinal vein occlusion include blurry vision, change of vision in one eye, floaters in your vision and pain in that eye.
You can recover your vision after a retinal vein occlusion, but it may be permanently altered.
If you suspect you are experiencing a retinal vein occlusion, or you are seeing floaters for the first time, see a doctor as soon as possible.
How to get a cholesterol test
If you are worried about your cholesterol levels, or you’ve noticed any of the symptoms listed above, make sure you get it checked out.
You can get your cholesterol checked at your GP surgery or by a pharmacist.
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