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Arcus senilis

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Title: Arcus senilis  
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Subject: Hypercholesterolemia, Optic papillitis, Positional alcohol nystagmus, Quadrantanopia, Band keratopathy
Collection: Disorders of Sclera and Cornea
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Arcus senilis

Arcus senilis
Classification and external resources
Four representative slides of corneal arcus - arcus deposits tend to start at 6 and 12 o'clock and fill in until becoming completely circumferential. There is a thin, clear section separating the arcus from the limbus, known as the lucid interval of Vogt. Image from Zech and Hoeg, 2008.[1]
ICD-10 H18.4
ICD-9 371.41
OMIM 107800
DiseasesDB 17120
MeSH D001112

Arcus senilis (or arcus senilis corneae) is a white, grey, or blue opaque ring in the corneal margin (peripheral corneal opacity), or white ring in front of the periphery of the iris. It is present at birth, but then fades; however, it is quite commonly present in the elderly. It can also appear earlier in life as a result of hypercholesterolemia. Arcus senilis can be confused with the limbus sign, which reflects calcium rather than lipid deposits.


  • Alternative names 1
  • Causes 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Alternative names

It is also called arcus adiposus, arcus juvenilis (when it occurs in younger individuals), arcus lipoides corneae or arcus cornealis; sometimes a gerontoxon.


It results from cholesterol deposits in or hyalinosis of the corneal stroma, and may be associated with ocular defects or with familial hyperlipidemia. It is common in the apparently healthy middle aged and elderly; a prospective cohort study of 12,745 Danes followed up for a mean of 22 years found that it had no clinical value as a predictor of cardiovascular disease.[2]

It can be a sign of disturbance in lipid metabolism, an indicator of conditions such as hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipoproteinemia or hyperlipidemia.

Unilateral arcus is a sign of decreased blood flow to the unaffected eye, due to carotid artery disease or ocular hypotony.

People over the age of 60 may present with a ring-shaped, grayish-white deposit of phospholipid and cholesterol near the peripheral edge of the cornea.

Younger people with the same abnormality at the edge of the cornea would be termed arcus juvenilis.


  1. ^ Zech Jr, LA; Hoeg, JM (2008). "Correlating corneal arcus with atherosclerosis in familial hypercholesterolemia". Lipids in health and disease 7: 7.  
  2. ^ Christoffersen, M; Frikke-Schmidt, R; Schnohr, P; Jensen, GB; Nordestgaard, BG; Tybjærg-Hansen, A (15 September 2011). "Xanthelasmata, arcus corneae, and ischaemic vascular disease and death in general population: prospective cohort study.". BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 343: d5497.  

External links

  • Photo at
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  • Definition at Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary
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