Keep an 'Eye' on Your Cholesterol & Blood Pressure

Keep an ‘Eye’ on Your Cholesterol & Blood Pressure

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 eyes 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 takes place 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 decreasing 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, there are often no early symptoms. When symptoms do reveal themselves, 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

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What Happens as Retinal Problems Become Worse?

As retinal damage continues, new blood vessels grow, but these blood vessels 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.

Keep an 'Eye' on Your Cholesterol & Blood PressureOther 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 the 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. Taking a convenient supplement like this ensures you get all the nutrients your eyes need to maintain their vision and stay healthy.

About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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2 responses to “Keep an ‘Eye’ on Your Cholesterol & Blood Pressure”

  1. Avatar for John Brown John Brown says:

    Thanks for this good advice.
    I would just like to draw attention to the 2011 paper on a Netherlands study of 3000 diabetics. Those who avoided diabetic retinopathy or in whom it regressed, all had significantly lower blood-glucose levels than the other groups. Blood pressure was also a little lower, but not by a lot. Cholesterol was only very very slightly lower.
    I got diabetic retinopathy in one eye, despite passing glucose load tests that showed I was not at all diabetic. I then eliminated all carbohydrates from my diet, except 500 gm. a day of kale, spinach, broccoli, collards and a red onion, and 75gm. of berries with yogurt on it. I got down to 40gm. carbohydrate a day.
    The ophthalmologist discharged me on examination 9 months later, and 18 months on a retinal photo shows “just a tiny bit of microaneurysm on one small vessel, not in the macula”, compared to the early “microaneurysm and haemorrhage, some in the macula.”
    So, drop your blood-sugar above all other things, seems to be the conclusion.

  2. Avatar for paula doyle paula doyle says:

    I just found out I have high cholesterol and all the side effects you said I have going to eye doctor tmmrw’

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