Health

High cholesterol: Do you see this shape in your eye? Arcus senilis is a sign – what is it?

High cholesterol is a confusing condition to have as the signs and symptoms are not obvious and if warning signs do come about, it's often not associated with having high cholesterol. Seeing this unusual shape in your eye could indicate your cholesterol levels are dangerously high.

If you notice an arc or ring around the iris it could be a major warning sign of high cholesterol.

Arcus senilis is said to be more common in older adults, however, it does sometimes occur in younger people too.

For younger people who have severe cases of high cholesterol and high triglycerides in the family, arcus senilis may occur.

In people with familial hyperlipidaemia, the arc typically occurs before the age of 45 and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

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What is arcus senilis?

Arcus senilis is a gray or white arc visible above and below the outer part of the cornea — the clear, domelike covering over the front of the eye, explained the Mayo Clinic.

The site added: "Eventually, the arc may become a complete ring around the coloured portion (iris) of your eye.

"Arcus senilis is common in older adults.

"It's caused by fat (lipid) deposits deep in the edge of the cornea."

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During an eye test, our optometrists will study the front surface of your eye including your cornea, said Allergo Optical.

The site continued: "This part of your eye is the dome-shaped, clear structure in front of your iris.

"You may have noticed a white ring around the outer edge of your cornea, but the colour change may also appear as if your iris has some discolouration.

"This white ring is called an arcus and it may appear without the presence of high cholesterol.

"An arcus can appear as part of the natural aging process of the eye, but anyone, whatever their age can develop an arcus from high cholesterol levels."


If you have noticed a ring around the cornea of your eye, it does not always mean you may have high cholesterol.

Arcus senilis is a common condition amongst the elderly and is likely caused by blood vessels in the eyes which has become more open with age allowing more cholesterol and other fats to leak into the eye.

Health experts state around 60 percent of those aged between 50 and 60 have arcus senilis and after 80 it's almost 100 percent.

The condition is also more common in men than in women.

How to lower your cholesterol

Dietician Helen Bond advises the best foods to help lower your cholesterol and said: "Healthy grains should be included including brown basmati rice, porridge oats, whole-wheat pasta and couscous, barley and buckwheat.

"They are packed full of fibre (including cholesterol lowering beta-glucan in oats and barley) and will help keep you fuller for longer, too. 

"Oils, vinegars and condiments including extra virgin olive oil for dressings, sunflower and rapeseed oils for cooking, white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar for flavour, reduced salt and sugar tomato sauce should be included.

"Nuts including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts and so on contain heart-healthy fats but they're high in calories, so stick to a 30g portion daily.

"Cans of fish - whilst tinned tuna doesn't count, tinned salmon, sardines and mackerel are super sources of heart-healthy essential omega-3 fats and are a convenient way to ensure you get your weekly serving of oily fish will help to lower your levels."



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