Fatty spots: eye symptoms that point to heart disease

Some say the eyes are the window to the soul, but they can also show signs of poor health. Small yellow or flesh-colored spots around the eyelids could point to signs of heart disease.

"They'll even come to the eye doctor or many times their dermatologist primarily because its unsightly to them and they want to know what it is and how to get rid of it," said Dr. Robert Janot, optometrist at Vision Source in Sulphur.

The fatty deposits, called xanthalasmas, are not necessarily harmful, but tend to collect around the eyelids.

"They have a predisposition for the eyelids with the blood circulation to there being so rich and the tissue being so thin," explained Dr. Janot.

The eyes are the only place on the body where you can see blood vessels on the surface, and for half of people those fat deposits could mean high cholesterol, lipids or even heart disease.

"Many people just get this as a hereditary component we see this in some families and it is more common in women and more common as we age," said Dr. Janot of those who are not suffering from high cholesterol.

Another symptom of high cholesterol could appear as a gray halo around the iris.

"It is very common and it is in about two thirds of people 80 and above," said Dr. Janot.

He said if a younger person has the halo it could point to high cholesterol.

"Under about the age of 50 then it is and can be indicative also of increased levels blood lipids and cholesterol," said Dr. Janot.

The fatty deposits are more common for women, while the gray halos are more often for men.

The halos are, "more common in African Americans as well as people who have diabetes and hypertension," said Dr. Janot.

The gray halos, he said, likely will not go away, but the yellow fatty spots can be removed. Dr. Janot suggested an acid peel, cryo-therapy or laser treatments.

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