Arcus Senilis

Wednesday, Mar 1, 2023 by Nisha Gupta, MD

This month we will talk about arcus senilis.

What is arcus senilis and what causes it?

Arcus senilis is a white, gray, or blue ring on the edge of the cornea. It appears to be a color change of the iris but it is actually in the cornea layer. It often begins on the top or bottom of the cornea and eventually makes a full circle around the edge. The ring is composed of fat deposits, usually cholesterol.


Arcus Senilis. Image Source 1

Arcus senilis usually happens with age. It is common in men and African Americans. In older adults, this does not mean one has high cholesterol. However, if this occurs in children or young adults, it may signify high cholesterol and other health conditions.

What are the symptoms?

There are no significant symptoms. A person may notice the lightly colored ring around the cornea. This condition causes no vision problems.

How is it detected and treated?

Ophthalmologists can detect arcus with an exam using a slit lamp. There is no need for treatment since it causes no symptoms and is related to aging. However, your doctor will investigate further if you are younger than 50 years old or have the ring in only one eye. In these cases, your doctor will work with you to evaluate and treat the underlying problem.

Return next month for a discussion on a new topic!

  1. This work is a derivative of Arcus Senilis by Afrodriguezg, used under CC BY-SA 4.0. This image is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by Gupta Eye Center LLC. [return]

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