Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure Increases Risk of Eye Disease

High blood pressure and high cholesterol not only increase a persons risk of heart disease and stroke, there is also evidence that this leads to increase one’s risk for retinal vein occlusion, a condition that leads to vision loss. Retinal vein occlusion results from one or more veins carrying blood from the eye to the heart becoming blocked and causing bleeding or fluid build-up, according to background information in the report published in the May issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

The study found that people with high blood pressure had more than 3.5 times the risk of developing retinal vein occlusion than those without it. People with high cholesterol levels had an approximately 2.5-fold higher risk of retinal vein occlusion.

The findings come from an analysis of 21 previously published studies involving 2,916 people with retinal vein occlusion and 28,646 people without the condition. It found that 63.6 percent of patients with retinal vein occlusion also had hypertension, compared with 36.2 percent of people without the eye condition. High cholesterol levels were more than twice as likely to be found in those with retinal vein occlusion as those without (35.1 percent vs. 16.7 percent).

Diabetes also occurred slightly more often among those with retinal vein occlusion than among those without (14.6 percent vs. 11.1 percent).

“Accordingly, we recommend that an assessment of blood pressure and both fasting lipid and glucose levels be routinely performed in adults with any form of retinal vein occlusion,” the authors wrote.

The authors concluded that those who treat patients with hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol should be as concerned with the health of the person’s eyes as they are with the health of the person’s cardiovascular system.

In September 2003, Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science reported a study in Rotterdam, The Netherlands demonstrating that high blood pressure may be associated with development of macular degeneration.  Similar studies have also concluded that elevated HDL but not total cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of AMD.  In fact, it was found that the use of statin drugs to treat high cholesterol was statistically significant in the development of advanced agerelated macular degeneration.  This analsys of the data also indicated that the use of these drugs were only linked to the development of the neovasular (wet) form of age related macular degeneration.

It is therefore imperative that people be more aware that all aspects of their health have dramatic affects on a persons well-being.  It is also important for health care professionals to be more aware of the relationships and interaction of various conditions on their patients.