What is the ring around my eyes?

Corneal arcus is a grey, yellow, or hazy white ring or arc (composed of lipids) that can form around the outer edge of both eyes. It is also otherwise known as arcus senilis in older adults and arcus juvenilis in younger adults under the age of 40. If this ring becomes dense enough, it can be visible with the naked eye. However, it does not cause a loss or decrease in vision so people with corneal arcus will have no symptoms.

The cause of corneal arcus remains somewhat unclear. It commonly develops in older adults usually due to age. However, corneal arcus has been suggested to be correlated to either high lipid levels (hyperlipidemia) or abnormal lipid levels in the blood (dyslipidemia), especially in younger adults under the age of 40. There has also been some conflicting evidence regarding corneal arcus and its association with cardiovascular disease.

Risk factors include (but are not limited to):

  • Older age
  • Smoking
  • Male gender
  • High blood pressure
  • African American heritage

Management of corneal arcus varies depending on the affected age group. In general, corneal arcus in individuals over the age of 40 do not need further management. Though it is suggested to get updated blood tests if cholesterol and lipid levels are unknown. However, in individuals under the age of 40, it is highly recommended to get blood tests to rule out any abnormalities in their lipid and/or cholesterol levels. Recent studies have suggested an increased risk of death secondary to cardiovascular disease in males with corneal arcus younger than the age of 40.

-Dr. Eugene Pak

Leave a Reply