Hypertension, High Cholesterol and Diabetes Linked To Ocular Condition

High cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension), and diabetes, could lead to a condition that causes vision loss, according to a recent study.

Retinal vein occlusion (RVO), is characterized by a blockage of the veins that carry blood from the eye to the heart, often leading to bleeding and fluid buildup in the eyes. This distorts vision, and sometimes causes blindness.

2,916 subjects with RVO were analyzed, along with 28,646 control subjects (those without RVO), in order to determine causes of the condition. It was speculated prior to analysis that hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, and diabetes, could be major contributors to the development of RVO.

The results showed that for patients with RVO, 63.6% suffered from hypertension, against only 36.2% of the control subjects. High cholesterol was more than twice as prevalent in subjects with RVO (35.1 percent vs. 16.7 percent).

There was a slight connection found between diabetes and RVO as well (14.6% of patients with RVO had diabetes, as opposed to 11.1% of those without RVO). High blood pressure and cholesterol are considered to be risk factors for diabetes. So although there is not a strong direct connection between diabetes and RVO, since high blood pressure and cholesterol often help lead to diabetes, there is a potentially strong indirect connection.

The results of this study show that the three conditions considered in connection to RVO “each pose a risk not only to cardiovascular health but also to ocular health.” The study also adds to the importance of treating high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, now showing that better treatment could prevent RVO.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Saccone, Julie. JAMA news release. May 2008.