High cholesterol symptoms: The sign in your eyes your cholesterol levels are too high

Everybody needs a small amount of blood cholesterol in the body - the body uses it to make hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone and to help the metabolism work efficiently. But too much of the wrong kind can contribute to heart disease and other serious health risks. Flashes of light in the eyes could be an indication that your levels are too high.

The part of the eye behind the lens is filled with a gel called the vitreous humour, said Dr Martin Scurr.

He continued: "This helps the eye to maintain its shape, and it becomes more watery as we age.

"The result is that it shrinks away from the retina — the light-sensitive nerve cells that line the back of the eye, which convert images into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain.

"That shrinkage is called posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) and most often occurs between the ages of 50 and 75.

"If you have PVD, there is a 3.4 percent chance that you will develop a retinal tear.

"Symptoms of PVD are a sudden onset of floaters or spots in the vision.

"These are made up of debris in the vitreous, which are mainly collagen fibres.

"There may also be a period — some days or weeks — in which sufferers experience flashes of light which last for several seconds or minutes.

"If the flashes of light worsen, immediate reassessment by an ophthalmologist is called for but eventually the flashing light sensations will ease up."

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In a study published in the review of optometry, high cholesterol and how it can affect the eyes was further investigated.

The study said: "Cholesterol emboli may be liberated from plaques within the internal carotid artery and relocate in the retinal arterioles.

"These emboli, called Hollenhorst plaques, may be associated with transient vision loss, or amaurosis fugax.

"These plaques are an important finding because they are linked to a greater likelihood of morbidity and mortality, including transient ischemic attacks.

"Along with plaques being liberated from the internal carotid, there can also be lipid accumulation in the vessel causing a partial occlusion that can lead to retinal changes that may be seen clinically.

"This condition is called hypoperfusion retinopathy (or ocular ischemic syndrome) secondary to carotid occlusive disease and can be accompanied by dot-and-blot haemorrhages in the mid-peripheral retina along with the possibility of neovascularization within the eye." 

How to lower cholesterol 

The same heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol can help prevent you from having high cholesterol in the first place.

To help prevent high cholesterol, its strongly advised to:

Eat a low-salt diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grainsLimit the amount of animal fats and use good fats in moderationLose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weightQuit smokingExercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutesDrink alcohol in moderation, if at allManage stress

A person could raise their cholesterol levels by regularly eating foods rich in animal fats.

These include butter, margarines, or other spreads made from animal fats.

It's important for a person to limit the amount of fatty or processed meats in your diet.

It's also recommended to eat more non-animal foods, including fruit and vegetables, as they don't raise cholesterol. 

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