Arcus senilis is a white, gray, or blue looking ring surrounding the cornea. This is commonly seen in elderlies but can also affect people of any age.
Arcus senilis is usually harmless, although it is sometimes a symptom of high cholesterol in people below 45 years old.
Arcus senilis can also be called arcus senilis corneae or arcus juvenilis for people under 40 years of age. This condition appears as a blue, gray, or white half circle, full circle, or arc surrounding the cornea of the eye. Despite its appearance, arcus senilis is normally not dangerous. However, a visit to the doctor can ensure there are no underlying complications to this condition.
The main cause of is aging and it usually affects people over 60 years of age. The condition occurs due to the accumulation of fat deposits from a person’s diet forming around the cornea.
Cholesterol is one type of fat that accumulates in the blood. However, it does not automatically mean that a person has high cholesterol. As we age, the blood vessels in the eyes widen and allow more cholesterol and other types of fat to build up in the eye.
Schnyder Central Crystalline Dystrophy
If it occurs in people below 40 years old, it is more likely to be caused by high cholesterol. The doctor will conduct a test to check the cholesterol levels which may be caused by lifestyle factors or a genetic condition called Schnyder central crystalline dystrophy. This condition causes cholesterol crystals to pile up in the central cornea with arcus senilis in the peripheral part of the cornea which may cause cardiovascular complications.
The condition is a common condition among men. It can also be possible for babies to be born with the condition, but this is very rare. A person with it is unlikely to experience other symptoms. Vision typically remains unaffected.
A slit lamp can be utilized by the doctor to diagnose arcus senilis. The eye exam may also include special eye drops to widen the pupil and allow the doctor to inspect the blood vessels at the back of the eye for possible signs of other conditions such as atherosclerosis.
The condition is not treatable. Once it appears, it will hardly fade or disappear. Fortunately, it does not affect someone’s vision. For aesthetic purposes, some people go for corneal tattooing to cover up the ring. However, doctors highly disapprove of this.
If arcus senilis turn out to be a sign of high cholesterol, the doctor may recommend a low saturated diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and fiber. Increased exercise and quitting smoking are also advised by medical experts despite having no evidence of making arcus senilis disappear.