What is that ring around your cornea?


This condition, called corneal arcus sometimes referred to as Arcus Senilis, are lipid (fatty) deposits that appear first as arcs then as rings on the outer region of the cornea. The cornea is the clear dome shaped window in the front of the eye. These rings are usually gray, white or blueish giving the illusion of two different eye colors and are usually opaque. Corneal arcus consists of cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides.

The cloudy ring may seem like it would make it harder for you to see, however, it doesn’t affect your vision, it is not dangerous, but it won’t go away either. It is just a benign sign of aging. Arcus is common in older adults.

When it does occur in patients before the age of 40 there is more of a concern. Blood tests are definitely recommended to rule out lipid and cholesterol abnormalities. There is a chance of what is known as familial hyperlipidemia, a disorder that is passed down through families. It causes very high levels of “bad” cholesterol and is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Corneal arcus in only one eye could be a sign of decreased blood flow to the eye without the arcus due to carotid artery disease or ocular hypotony. You always want to consult a medical professional to confirm there are no underlying conditions. Many times we see not just sight threatening conditions, but sometimes life-threatening that can be seen in the smaller parts of the eye before they are found in other parts of the body.




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