High cholesterol can cause skin lesions that look like fat deposits under the eyes. These lesions are called xanthelasma and appear as yellow, raised bumps. They most commonly occur on the inner canthus of the eyelid, which is the area closest to the nose. Xanthelasma can appear on the bottom and top eyelids.
What Cholesterol Deposits Look Like
Xanthelasma belong to a group of cholesterol skin deposits know as xanthoma. Xanthomas can form on any part of the body but are most commonly found on the joints, knees, tendons, hands, feet and buttocks. When found on the eyelids, xanthomas are called xanthelasma. They look like yellow bumps and can be soft or firm. They do not hurt or cause vision problems. Cholesterol deposits on the eye start out small but can grow and become permanent.
Causes of Xanthelasma
The fat deposits on the eyelids know as xanthelasma form as a result of extra fat in the bloodstream. Common causes include high blood cholesterol, uncontrolled diabetes, cirrhosis, certain cancers and atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. The chance of having fatty cholesterol deposits on the eyelids increases with age. However, younger adults can have this condition, especially if high cholesterol runs in the family.
Fat under the eyes from high cholesterol can be removed surgically, with a laser or chemical treatment. However, xanthelasmas may recur. It is also important to remember that removing the visible bump is only a cosmetic treatment. Removing cholesterol deposits does not help with underlying conditions, such as high blood cholesterol or diabetes.
To prevent fatty deposits on the eyelids, it is important to maintain a healthy level of blood cholesterol. When xanthelasma are present, they often serve as indicators of one or more serious diseases. According to a 2013 study published in "Biomed Research International," 60 percent of people with cholesterol deposits on the eyelids had abnormal blood fat levels and more than 40 percent had associated diseases. It is important to make a doctor's appointment to determine the cause and appropriate treatment if fatty deposits under the eyelid are present.