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Cholesterol Deposits Around the Eyes Signals Heart Problems

Cholesterol Deposits Around the Eyes Signals Heart Problems

If you've ever wondered why your doctor examines your eyes when you're just there for a regular checkup, it's because your eyes can indicate heart problems.

As doctors, we're looking into your eyes for clues, such as cholesterol deposits. Your eyes can actually provide early warnings about your heart health. The cool thing is that you can keep an eye out for the same things we do, such as:

  • Small yellow patches around your eyes: These are cholesterol deposits called xanthelasmata, which suggest a serious risk of heart disease or a fatal heart attack. In 50 percent of cases, there are no other warning signs of heart problems.
  • A white ring around your pupils: Called a corneal arcus, it hints of cholesterol that's high enough to trigger heart disease—especially if you're under 40.
  • Blood vessels in your eyes that look kinky or off-color: If the blood vessels on your retina are looped, have sharp bends or look more gray or bronze rather than red, we'll check extra carefully for diabetes and hypertension.

Foods to Nourish Your Eyes

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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