High cholesterol affects your health in more than one way. In most cases it shows no signs and has no symptoms. There is an exception, however -- a condition by the name of familial hypercholesterolaemia. A genetic disorder, this condition leaves cholesterol deposits in various areas of your body, one of which is your eyelids.
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Cholesterol bumps on the eyelids have a medical name -- xanthelasmas. These are not just bumps; they are cholesterol deposits that signal high cholesterol levels. They rarely appear in people under the age of 30. Although abnormal cholesterol levels generally have no signs or symptoms, one exception exists -- a condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia.
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic condition that passes down through generations of a family, causing those who have it to experience high levels of LDL -- bad cholesterol -- from the moment they are born, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. This condition is the result of a defective gene which controls the removal of excess cholesterol from your bloodstream. You can inherit this condition from one parent, but if you receive it from both, your LDL cholesterol can exceed 600 mg/dL. Aside from the fatty deposits on your eyelids, you may notice xanthomas, fatty deposits on your tendons or pressure areas such as elbows, knees and heels.
A physical exam helps your doctor detect both xanthomas and xanthelasmas. Once aware of these deposits, he can send you for a blood test to determine the amount of cholesterol in your blood stream. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, he may also send you for genetic testing to determine if you have familial hypercholesterolemia. This generally requires a more vigorous treatment, such as starting cholesterol-lowering medication immediately rather than waiting for dietary changes to take effect.
The main treatment for xanthelasmas is identification and treatment of the underlying lipid disorder, such as high LDL levels. Dermnet.org explains that once your cholesterol begins to decrease, the cholesterol deposits on or around your eyelids should begin to resolve also. If this does not occur, cauterization, or using a topical acid is something you can consider. The topical acid is a treatment that must be done in 4-week intervals. The deposits may be removed surgically as well. Speak to your doctor about the various methods and decide what is best for you.