Harvard Men's Health Watch

On call: Cholesterol rings in the eyes

On call

Cholesterol rings in the eyes

Q. At my last visit to my eye doctor, he told me that I had a cholesterol ring. What can you tell me about this condition?

A. One of the main goals of a doctor's physical examination is to detect signs of disease. Although ophthalmologists focus on eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, they can also recognize evidence of certain systemic diseases. For instance, both hypertension and diabetes can produce telltale changes in the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye.

Your "cholesterol ring" (arcus senilis) is a cloudy deposit on the front of the eye surrounding the pigmented iris. It will not affect your vision and has no relationship to the health of your eyes. The ring tends to appear with age, and it is also more common in people with high blood cholesterol levels.

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