Tools and Resources

Arcus senilis: A sign of high cholesterol?

What's the relationship between arcus senilis and high cholesterol?

Arcus senilis (AHR-kus see-NIL-us) and the eye problems caused by high cholesterol are different.

Arcus senilis, also known as arcus cornealis, is a gray or white arc visible above and below the outer part of the cornea the clear, dome-like covering over the front of the eye. Eventually, the arc may become a complete ring around the cornea.

Arcus senilis is common in older adults. It's caused by fat (lipid) deposits deep in the edge of the cornea. It isn't related to high cholesterol, however. Arcus senilis doesn't affect vision, nor does it require treatment.

Eye problems caused by high cholesterol are uncommon typically affecting only people who have severe cases of high cholesterol and high triglycerides passed down through families (familial hyperlipidemia). High cholesterol is more likely associated with a similar gray or white arc visible around the entire cornea (circumferential arcus) in younger adults. Treatment is generally aimed at controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The average person who has high cholesterol doesn't develop an arc of any type. If you're concerned about eye health and high cholesterol, talk to your doctor.

Arcus senilis

Photo of arcus senilis
Enlarge Image
Arcus senilis is a gray or white arc or circle visible around the outer part of the cornea in many older adults. It doesn't require treatment. ...
Updated: 12/16/2010

© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to content provided to this site by MayoClinic.com/Mayo Clinic Health Information. Use thereof signifies your agreement to these terms of use.