Eyelids as windows into the heart

Published: March, 2011

People who develop yellow bumps on their eyelids often visit a dermatologist to get them removed. They may want to see a cardiologist as well.

Such a skin lesion is actually a cholesterol deposit known medically as xanthelasma (ZAN-thuh-LAZ-muh) — derived from the Greek word for yellow. (The plural is xanthelasmata. You can see what they look like at www.health.harvard.edu/166.) Xanthelasmata are strikingly similar to the cholesterol deposits that develop inside blood vessels and contribute to atherosclerosis. This raises the question of whether the eyelids might provide a diagnostic window into the heart.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »