Arcus senilis could be a warning sign of high cholesterol levels

Arcus senilis could be a warning sign of high cholesterol levels


Dr Chris reveals how eyes can indicate high cholesterol levels

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High cholesterol isn’t one for making a grand entrance. Despite laying the groundwork for serious health problems, ranging from heart disease to stroke, the condition doesn’t often cause warning signs. However, your face might be able to reveal the fatty substance.


While high cholesterol doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms, a certain tell-tale sign might appear in your eyes.

Triggered by cholesterol build-up, Arcus senilis could help ring alarm bells.

Arcus senilis is a white, light grey, or blueish ring around the edge of the cornea. 

The cornea is the transparent part of your eye that covers the iris and the pupil, allowing the light to enter.

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The American Academy of Ophthalmology explains that the cornea is usually clear, meaning the colour of your iris can show through.

However, Arcus senilis can make it seem as though your iris contains two different colours.

The health portal adds: “Arcus senilis usually begins as a short arc of colour along the top and bottom of the cornea. 

“Eventually these may connect and make a complete ring around the cornea.”

While this warning sign appears in your eye, Arcus senilis doesn’t affect your vision.

In a previous interview, Dr Ali Mearza, consultant ophthalmic surgeon and the co-founder of OCL Vision, told “If the Arcus is so pronounced it can be seen with the naked eye, it means it has been growing for a number of years.

“For those in the early stages of high cholesterol, it is usually detected through an eye exam.

“And your optician will advise you to get your cholesterol checked.”

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Once you notice this sign in your eye, it’s important to speak to your GP so they can investigate further.

The Mayo Clinic explains that Arcus senilis can also develop in older adults with normal cholesterol levels.

However, if this ring targets younger people, it could be pointing towards familial hypercholesterolemia.

Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic disorder that increases your risk of having coronary heart disease at a younger age.

Although Arcus senilis could point to high levels of cholesterol, the most reliable way of picking up the fatty substance remains to be a blood test.

How to lower high cholesterol

The good news is there’s plenty you can do to keep your cholesterol levels in check, ranging from a healthy diet to cholesterol-busting medicine called statins.

A cholesterol-lowering diet requires cutting back on saturated fats – think cheese, butter, sausages and biscuits. However, upping your intake of soluble fibre could also help lower your levels.

Other helpful lifestyle tweaks include reducing your alcohol intake, quitting smoking and picking up exercise.

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