Corneal arcus is a deposit of lipids causing a white or grayish ring at the periphery of the cornea.

In scientific terms, corneal arcus is “a corneal disease in which there is a deposition of phospholipid and cholesterol in the corneal stroma and anterior sclera.” Also called arcus senilis (when occurring in the elderly), arcus juvenilis (when occurring in the young) or arcus senilis corneae, the disease is found mostly at birth or later in life, becoming quite frequent in those over 50. It is a white or gray opaque ring in the margin of the cornea (in medical terms, “peripheral corneal opacity”), also defined as a “hazy ring at the edge of the cornea where the iris meets the white of the eye but does not impair vision”. It results from cholesterol deposits in or hyalinosis of the corneal stroma and may be associated with ocular defects or with familial hyperlipidemia.

It can be a sign of disturbance in lipid metabolism, an indicator of conditions such as hypercholesteremia, hyperlipoproteinemia or hyperlipidemia. Unilateral arcus is a sign of carotid artery disease or ocular hypotony (abnormally low intraocular pressure often related to uveitis).

In short Arcus juvenilus or senilis is a deposit of lipids causing a white ring at the periphery of the cornea. It is generallybenign and age-related; however, when seen in younger patients, there may be an association with elevatedblood cholesterol. It is prudent to test cholesterol and lipid levels during the next medical examination.