There is little doubt that good eyesight is essential for enjoying a healthy and active life. Unfortunately, people get affected by certain diseases that can seriously affect the health of their eyes. For instance, most people are aware that high levels of cholesterol or blood pressure can particularly be bad for your health and are known to be frequently associated with cardiovascular diseases.
Yet, many people are not aware that these two conditions can also adversely affect your eyesight!
High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure Can Cause Retinal Vein Occlusion
These common conditions can hurt four parts of your eye and their functioning:
- Retina: This is the lining at the back of your eye, which senses light coming into the eye
- Vitreous: The jelly-like fluid that fills up the back of an eye
- Lens: Located at the front of the eye, the lens focuses light on the retina
- Optic nerve: The eye’s main nerve to the brain
The eyes are not only your windows to the world but also a window to your arteries. Just as too much cholesterol builds up on the walls of blood vessels and results in the formation of a thick plaque, retinal vein occlusion take places when the blood flowing into and away from the eye experiences a blockage on the way.
The rate at which blood flows through the vessels keeps coming down and ultimately a blood clot is developed. This is easily comparable to having a blocked artery. The retinal tissue senses light to create impulses that are transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve to the brain.
As the central retina artery gets narrower or blocked by cholesterol, the connection between the optic nerve and the brain also gets blocked. The result is painless loss of sight.
Researchers have pointed out that both high blood pressure and high cholesterol appear to increase a person’s risk for retinal vein occlusion. They state that people with high blood pressure have more than three times the risk of developing the condition, and those with high cholesterol are at a slightly lesser risk of 2.5 times.
Unfortunately, generally there are no early symptoms and often they appear too late. Because of this, people can suffer sudden and considerable loss of vision. There may not be any noticeable signs of retinal damage due to cholesterol or high blood pressure, but you may have one or more of these symptoms:
- Eye floaters or spots
- Double or blurry vision
- Pressure or pain in your eyes
- Flashing lights, rings, or blank spots
- Finding it difficult to see things out of the corners of your eyes
What Happens as Retinal Problems Become Worse?
As retinal damage continues, new blood vessels grow, but these blood vessel are weak. They can break easily, causing leakage of blood to the vitreous of your eye. This prevents light from reaching the retina of your eye. As a result, you may experience total darkness or floating spots. While the blood can eventually clear by itself else, sometimes it needs to be removed surgically.
With passing years, the inflamed and weak blood vessels may result in built up scar tissue and drag the retina away from the back of the eye. If the retina becomes detached, you might see flashing lights or eye floaters. It’s almost like curtains have been drawn over part of what you may be looking at.
It is so incredibly important to have control over your cholesterol and blood pressure. It is also significantly important to have your eyes checked regularly.
If you’re noticing any changes in vision, don’t wait! Get to your eye doctor’s right away! You optometrist will know what to look for and what tests to perform, including:
- Corneal arcus (Arcus senilis) – The formation of a slight gray or white ring around the edge of your cornea, which in fact is a deposit of fat due to cholesterol in the eye. This is very frequent among elderly persons but not considered normal in the case of younger patients. If detected in a young patient, cholesterol and triglyceride treatments are typically suggested.
- Hollenhorst plaque – Tiny pieces of fatty material (cholesterol) that might have broken down from the wall of a blood vessel and reached the eye. Such plaque build-ups may grow as retinal vein occlusions. On finding this, the specialist suspecting a serious cholesterol problem sends the patient for further testing.
Apart from getting your eyes examined at least once a year, those having issues with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes (or a combination of these) should certainly consult their doctor for a routine checkup of blood pressure and sugar along with both fasting lipid and glucose levels.
Other than that, it’s always a good idea to take the right measures to help prevent the onset of other diseases connected with blood vessels, like coronary artery disease, to reduce the risk of retinal vein occlusion. Some things you could do or change in your everyday life include:
- Following a healthy eating plan as suggested by your doctor or dietitian
- Exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes every day. Ask your doctor about exercises that would prove most helpful in your case
- Taking prescribed medicines as per directed by your doctor
- Shedding extra pounds
Useful Tips for Improving Overall Health of Your Eyes
If you really want your eyes to remain healthy, you need to be serious about your diet. If you don’t have the time or means to include the right foods, then you might want to try special supplements in your diet. A simple little supplement like our Ocu-Plus Formula contains 17 vitamins, minerals, and herbs essential for strong, healthy eyes and vision.