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High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Associated With Eye Disease

Risk for retinal vein blockage more than doubles when these conditions go untreated

MONDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels not only are bad for your heart, they may also harm your eyesight, a new report suggests.

The two conditions appear to increase one's risk for retinal vein occlusion, a condition that leads to vision loss. It 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 Irish 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.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cholesterol.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, May 13, 2008

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