Cholesterol is best known for its tendency to accumulate in the inner lining of arteries. In some people, though, it can also appear in small deposits in the skin. When these yellowish deposits form around the eyes, they are known as xanthelasma (pronounced ZAN-thuh-LAZ-muh; the plural form is xanthelasmata). As described in the March 2011 Harvard Heart Letter, the presence of a xanthelasma seems to signal that an individual is at increased risk of developing heart disease.
With permission from the Digital Journal of Ophthalmology, an online journal affiliated with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School, here is an image of what the deposits look like:
This image is part of a quiz by Drs. Ramin Tayani, Aaron Fay, and Peter A.D. Rubin, all of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School. [Tayani R, Fay A, Rubin PAD. Orbit/Oculoplastic Quiz 4 [Knowledge Review]. Digital Journal of Ophthlamology, Nov 7, 1998.]