What are the causes and treatment options for corneal arcus?

Symptom Database

Corneal arcus, also known as corneal opacity or corneal ring, is an eye condition characterized by the presence of cholesterol deposits in the eyes. It is a common finding in older individuals and is often associated with certain health conditions. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatment options for corneal arcus, as well as its implications for eye health.

Causes of Corneal Arcus

Corneal arcus is primarily caused by the accumulation of lipids, specifically cholesterol, in the cornea. This can occur due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Elevated cholesterol levels: High levels of cholesterol in the blood can lead to the deposition of cholesterol in various parts of the body, including the cornea.
  • Age: Corneal arcus is more commonly observed in older individuals, with prevalence increasing with age.
  • Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing corneal arcus.
  • Underlying health conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as familial hypercholesterolemia, can increase the risk of corneal arcus.

Treatment Options for Corneal Arcus

While corneal arcus itself does not typically cause any vision problems or discomfort, it may indicate underlying health issues that require attention. Therefore, treatment options for corneal arcus primarily focus on managing the underlying causes and associated conditions. Some possible treatment options include:

Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help manage cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of corneal arcus. This includes:

  • Eating a balanced diet: Consuming a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Regular exercise: Engaging in physical activity can help improve overall cardiovascular health and regulate cholesterol levels.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking has been linked to increased cholesterol levels and can contribute to the development of corneal arcus.


In cases where lifestyle modifications alone are not sufficient, medication may be prescribed to manage cholesterol levels. Statins, a class of drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol, may be recommended by a healthcare professional.

Management of Underlying Health Conditions

If corneal arcus is associated with an underlying health condition, such as familial hypercholesterolemia, it is important to manage and treat that condition. This may involve medication, dietary changes, and regular monitoring of cholesterol levels.

Implications for Eye Health

While corneal arcus itself does not typically affect vision, it may indicate an increased risk of other eye disorders or diseases. Individuals with corneal arcus should be vigilant about their eye health and undergo regular eye examinations to detect any potential issues. Some eye abnormalities that may be associated with corneal arcus include:

Corneal Abnormalities

Corneal arcus can sometimes be accompanied by other corneal abnormalities, such as thinning or irregularities in the corneal shape. These abnormalities can potentially affect vision and may require further evaluation and treatment by an ophthalmologist.

Other Eye Disorders

Corneal arcus has been associated with an increased risk of certain eye disorders, including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Regular eye examinations can help detect these conditions early and facilitate timely intervention.


Corneal arcus is a common eye condition characterized by cholesterol deposits in the cornea. While it does not typically cause vision problems, it may indicate underlying health conditions that require attention. Lifestyle modifications, medication, and management of associated health conditions are the primary treatment options for corneal arcus. Regular eye examinations are important for individuals with corneal arcus to monitor their eye health and detect any potential issues. By understanding the causes and treatment options for corneal arcus, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their eye health and overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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