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What is Corneal Arcus : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis, Complications, Prevention

Corneal Arcus is a disease of the cornea that often looks as white arcs on the cornea. The white arcs occur because of abnormal deposits of cholesterol and phospholipids. It is generally caused by eye defects or high blood lipid levels. A greyish-white arc/ring covers the periphery of the cornea in older or middle aged persons. Let us see the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of corneal arcus in details.

What is Corneal Arcus?

What is Corneal Arcus?

Corneal Arcus is a condition where a blue, grey or white opaque ring forms in the corneal margin or white ring in front of periphery of the iris. Though it presents at birth but with time it fades automatically. However, it is also commonly noted in the elderly people, though it can appear earlier in anyone’s life as a result of hypercholesterolemia. Corneal Arcus can be often confused with the limbus sign that reflects calcium rather than the lipid deposits.

Corneal Arcus is common in older adults and is related to high level of cholesterol. It does not affect your eyes and nor it requires treatment and thus there is no need to worry if you are facing such condition. The arc usually completes a ring around the color portion of your eye and thus it can damage your overall look. Hence, it’s important to take care of the condition to regain the normal as well as the beautiful look. Apart from older people, corneal arcus is sometimes also seen in younger people suffering from excessive high levels of cholesterol. So, controlling the cholesterol level is the only way to get rid of this around the eyes.

Symptoms of Corneal Arcus

Corneal arcus is a harmless medical condition and so it never produces any remarkable indications except the smoky ring in the front portion of the eye. Therefore, the ring can easily be seen with naked eyes. Though, in few cases, if it is simply a mild arc, then the ring can be visualized better by an ophthalmologist with his/her professional eye instruments.

In most of the cases, corneal arcus is actually present in both eyes. However, in handful cases the ring may even be seen only in one eye. In such condition, the probability of decreased blood circulation in uninvolved eye is to be thought of.

Once, you face the symptoms of corneal arcus, you should go to a doctor for detecting the underlying cause and accordingly you can start treatment without any delay that would help you to get well soon. Gradually, the arc goes off, while the normal eyes without the arc reappear.

Prognosis of Corneal Arcus

Corneal arcus is a harmless condition and has a good prognosis with timely treatment. Alongside, you should also get familiar with the medicinal course that would help you to get rid of the corneal arcus easily. In this respect, you need to consult with your doctor knowing the course up to which you should continue taking the medicines.

Causes of Corneal Arcus

Corneal arcus results from the cholesterol deposits in or sometimes hyalinosis of the corneal stroma. It may be related with familial hyperlipidemia or ocular defects. Corneal arcus is very much common in elderly and even in healthy middle aged people.

It can be a mark of disturbance in the lipid metabolism; a pointer of conditions like hyperlipidemia, hyperlipoproteinemia or hypercholesterolemia. Unilateral Arcus is an indication of decreased blood flow to the unaffected eye, because of ocular hypotony or carotid artery disease.

Majority number of individuals over the age 70 to 80 develop yellowish or grey circular ring around their corneal periphery. It is quite common in people of African and Asian descent as compared to Caucasians. As compared to females, males are more susceptible to develop this particular disease. The commonness of this disease develops with growing age both in male and female. The peripheral corneal opaque ring is even pretty common finding in those who have high blood sugar or those who smoke since many years.

Risk Factors of Corneal Arcus

According to research, Corneal Arcus usually attacks patients with coronary artery diseases (CAD) rather than healthy people especially those who are under 50 years of age. The risk factors include high cholesterol, hyperlipoproteinemia and hypercholesterolemia.

Complications of Corneal Arcus

Clinically, Corneal Arcus is harmless and even the vision does not get diminished. Even, ulcerations and vascularization of cornea does not happen. Although, corneal arcus does not give rise to any complications, the causes of corneal arcus formation does pose threat for cardiovascular diseases, which may reduce the overall quality of life.

Certain other diseases that you may face are like hyperlipoproteinaemia especially types II and III. Although, it is harmless, one must take a good care of the eyes and also the overall health.

Diagnosis of Corneal Arcus

Ways to detect corneal arcus would help you to maintain a better way of life. The diagnosis consists of following options:

  • Computerized technology
  • Identifying the particular age group
  • Understanding the risk factors
  • Underlying cause of the disease
  • A doctor can ask for the blood tests to check for the cholesterol and lipid levels.

Treatment of Corneal Arcus

An elderly person having Corneal Arcus does not need any kind of treatment as it does not cause any sort of harm to the eyesight or the body. If corneal arcus is observed in any individual below the age of 40 years, then he/she has to be very careful. He/she should do initial blood tests for triglyceride and cholesterol to rule out hypercholesterolemia. Medications are given to bring cholesterol and lipid levels under control. Regular blood checks are recommended to evaluate the levels. Lifestyle modifications are also recommended to bring stress, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar under control. A healthy diet regime is also to be followed.

Prevention of Corneal Arcus

In order to prevent corneal arcus, make sure you avoid taking fatty foods. This will help in reducing the level of cholesterol. Also, you can take certain medicines to reduce cholesterol preventing Corneal Arcus disease affecting your eyes.


Corneal arcus is a harmless condition; rather it can be taken as an indication of many serious health problems like hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia, hyperproteinemia etc. These conditions can lead to many more serious health problems. Other than the cosmetic factor, corneal arcus has no impact on the body. With timely check-up and intake of the medication for treating the cause of corneal arcus, the condition can be very well managed.


  1. Bhatnagar, A., Williams, D. R., & Stein, J. H. (2006). Association of corneal arcus with cardiovascular risk factors and diseases in the Framingham Offspring Study. American Journal of Ophthalmology, 142(6), 962-968.
  2. Goldberg, M. F. (1967). Familial band-shaped nodular keratopathy. American Journal of Ophthalmology, 64(6), 1150-1158.
  3. Khan, M. S., Mehta, A., Williams, R., & Situnayake, R. D. (2001). Corneal arcus and hypercholesterolaemia: An association revisited. Eye, 15(6), 787-790.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2023

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