Blog Hero

Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, & Your Eyes

Book Appointment

How High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels Can Hurt Your Eyes

Your eye is a complex piece of biological machinery. Were you able to see inside it, you would see a whole network of retinal cells, nerves, blood vessels. Your DNA automatically codes each part of your eye to work in harmony to give you sight.

Your eye needs all its little systems to work in sync in order to function properly. Your eye, in particular, needs an optimal supply of blood in order to work well. A disturbance in that blood supply can have lasting consequences for your eyesight. As a result, your blood pressure and cholesterol levels can cause eye problems if they are not taken care of.

The Problem of High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

You may not immediately think of high blood pressure and cholesterol as eye problems. Sure they might relate to your fitness or your chances of heart problems. But your eye probably isn’t your first thought.

Blood pressure and cholesterol come into play because of their effect on the small blood vessels that run through your eye. Abnormal blood pressure and cholesterol can cause the sensitive blood vessels of your eye to weaken and thin, which interferes with the health of your eye.

To ensure lasting eye health, you need to properly regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. We will explain a few of the symptoms you can expect from blood pressure and cholesterol problems. We will then suggest some good health habits that can help you prevent or minimize these symptoms. You can use our information to discover a possible problem and protect your eyes.

Eye Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension retinopathy) strains your blood vessels that feed your eye and optic nerve. Since many of the more sustained problems take time to develop, you need to look for less obvious signs of vision problems. The following warning signs require immediate medical attention to find the underlying problem.

  • Blurry vision
  • Vision loss
  • Dim vision
  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Blood vessel bursts
  • Eye Swelling

These conditions usually result from more serious problems caused by hypertension. Here are a few that you should look out for.


In retinopathy, the blood vessels wear so thin that they begin to burst. This leads to bleeding in the retina, which causes severe vision loss. As well, spots, fluids, and lipids build up on the retina, causing pressure and even a little vision loss.


Choroidopathy results in fluid building up behind the retina, rather than inside the retina. The fluid will cause visual distortions, as it bends light that enters the eye. The distortions cause straight lines to appear bent, objects to appear farther away, and dark spots to appear in the center of your vision.


With neuropathy, blood vessel breaks cause fluid to build up around the optic nerve. The increase of pressure causes headaches and visual distortions. As well, pressure can cause vision loss if it pinches the nerve.

The Eye Symptoms of High Cholesterol

The presence of more fat in your blood can cause problems when it builds up in your eye. Like high blood pressure, it’s hard to diagnose underlying problems. However, here are some of the warning signs you can use to detect a problem:

  • Grey, yellow, and white deposits forming around the cornea
  • Blurry vision
  • Yellow bumps around the eyes

These symptoms indicate you might have a more serious condition, like those below.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Retinal vein occlusion occurs when cholesterol breaks off a blood vessel wall and causes a clot in your retina. The result can be an instant blurring of vision or vision loss. Some patients can have an occlusion removed with only temporary vision problems. However, sometimes people can experience permanent damage.

Corneal Acus

A corneal acus happens when cholesterol forms around the rim of the cornea. The rim itself isn’t harmful, but it does indicate very high levels of cholesterol that might cause other health problems.

Protect Your Eye Health

You can prevent high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol with good health habits. It’s well known that a proper diet with exercise sheds pounds, reduce cholesterol, and moderates blood pressure. However, here are a few of the benefits your eye experiences when you increase your healthy habits now.

  • Exercise reduces the pressure your blood vessels in your eye feel. Aerobic exercise increases the power of your heart, and in turn, reduces the amount of effort it needs to pump blood. This means less stress on your eye.
  • A good diet and exercise reduce fat that can threaten your eye. Fat will reduce inside the bloodstream, which reduces pressure and reduces the likelihood of a clot. As well, less fat means your heart needs less force to pump your blood.
  • A healthy diet will increase the health of your eye. Green vegetables have antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that promote eye health. Vitamin C and E both help your eye stay fresh and healthy.

When you take steps to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, you also prevent eye problems in the future. You can use what you learned from this article to avoid eye problems caused by hypertension and high cholesterol. Make a plan today to lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure so you can have healthier vision tomorrow.

Written by Donald Bishop

In addition to his Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo, Dr. Bishop also earned his pharmacological therapeutics certification from Northeastern State University of Oklahoma. He graduated in 1983 and has been practising optometry in Alberta ever since.

More Articles By Donald Bishop
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax