What Causes Cholesterol Deposits In The Eyes And How To Get Rid Of Them?

Topic Overview

Sometimes, cholesterol deposits can accumulate around the eyes.  These are medically defined as Xanthelasmas.  These growths are in majority of the cases asymptomatic and benign even though sometimes they may indicate an underlying medical condition.  The treatment cholesterol deposits around the eyes are mostly done for cosmetic reasons.  These lesions can be soft and semisolid.  Generally, they are symmetrical and present in the eyelids of both eyes.  They are however progressive and if not removed can become permanent [1, 2, 3].

Cholesterol deposits around the eyes generally indicate that the person has increased levels of cholesterol in the body, the thyroid is not functioning normally, or the liver is dysfunctional.  Cholesterol deposits in the eyes can come at any age but are normally seen in people in their 30s and 40s.  They are seen more in females than males.  These lesions do not cause any pain and in no way affect the ability of a person to see objects normally [1, 2, 3].  The article below highlights some of the primary causes for cholesterol deposits in the eyes and how to get rid of them.

What Causes Cholesterol Deposits In The Eyes?

The root cause of cholesterol in the eyes is not entirely clear as the medical fraternity have not come up with a cause yet.  However, having these lesions definitely indicates that the person has high levels of LDL or bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.  This is medically termed as dyslipidemia.  It can increase the likelihood of cholesterol accumulating in the arteries raising the risk for various cardiovascular diseases [3].

There are also certain genetic conditions that are also linked to dyslipidemia. These include familial hypercholesterolemia, familial hypertriglyceridemia, and lipoprotein lipase deficiency.  An individual with any one of these conditions will have abnormally high levels of lipid despite being absolutely healthy. Other causes of dyslipidemia include diet high of saturated fats, being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, excessive use of alcohol and tobacco [3].

Dyslipidemia can also be caused due to diabetes, kidney dysfunction, hypothyroidism, hypertension, liver disorders, and certain medications like oral contraceptives, beta blockers, and anabolic steroids.  One study has indicated that cholesterol deposits in the eyes were associated with increased vulnerability to myocardial infarction despite lipids levels being normal [3].

How To Get Rid Of Cholesterol Deposits In The Eyes?

As stated, cholesterol deposits in and around the eyes are treated in most cases purely for cosmetic reasons.  For this, removing these deposits surgically is preferred the most.  The technique used for removing these lesions will depend on the size and location of the deposits.  Some of the surgical options include excision, laser ablation, chemical cauterization, and cryotherapy.  Postsurgery, the patient may have bruising and swelling for some time after which it fades away spontaneously.  A risk that is present for people undergoing surgery for cholesterol deposits in the eyes is a slight change in skin color over the affected region [3].

One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that even after a successful surgery, there is a high likelihood of recurrence of cholesterol deposits in the eyes unless the underlying cause of it is addressed.  This is especially true for people with dyslipidemia which makes treatment of this condition absolutely essential.  In addition to lowering the risk of recurrence of cholesterol deposits in the eyes they also reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems [3].

Primary treatment for dyslipidemia includes dietary and lifestyle modifications.  These include losing an excess weight in a healthy manner.  This decreases the levels of the Bad Cholesterol of LDL and triglyceride levels.  A person with dyslipidemia should emphasize on a diet low on saturated and trans-fats.  Additionally, eating oily, fried, and fatty foods are also not advised for people with dyslipidemia.  Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be focused more upon [3].

Some of the foods that need to be avoided include butter, cheese, cream, fatty meats, cakes, foods made of coconut oil.  People with dyslipidemia should focus on eating beans, lentils, oats, barley, and citrus fruits.  Exercising and staying physically active is a must for people with dyslipidemia. In addition to increasing the HDL or Good Cholesterol levels it also induces production of endorphins which provides a sense of calmness and a feel good factor. Cycling, swimming, jogging, brisk walking, and running all are good examples of exercises to lower LDL and triglyceride levels [3].

Alcohol Moderation: Excessive drinking of alcohol has also been linked to dyslipidemia.  Thus it is recommended to moderate the amount of alcohol a person drinks.  The United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that for a female one drink a day is ideal and males at maximum two alcoholic drinks a day [3].

Nicotine Abstinence: It is essential for people with dyslipidemia to stay away from nicotine to prevent any unnecessary complications from this condition and prevent any cholesterol deposits in the eyes [3].

Medications: Aside from dietary and lifestyle modifications, there are also medications available that can be prescribed by the physician to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels [3].

In conclusion, cholesterol deposit in the eye is medically termed as xanthelasma.  It is an indicator of increased LDL cholesterol levels in the body.  It is seen more in females that in males.  These deposits or lesions are completely benign and do not affect the ability of a person to see in any way.  People generally want to get rid of them purely for cosmetic reasons.  However, it is important to identify the underlying cause of cholesterol deposits in the eyes as some of the causes such as dyslipidemia increase the risk of a person for cardiovascular diseases [1, 2, 3].

Additionally, some types of renal issues, thyroid problems, liver dysfunction, and even diabetes also can cause cholesterol deposits in the eyes so they also need to be identified and treated accordingly.  Thus, it is recommended for anyone who develops cholesterol deposits in the eyes to consult with a physician at the earliest to identify the underlying cause and start treatment for it to prevent any undue complications [1, 2, 3].

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