Most of us use our eyes to take in our surroundings like the autumn leaves going from green to gold and red or birds flying around us on an afternoon stroll. But, they can also give us a peek into what’s going on within our body. More specifically, a white ring in your eyes around your cornea, called an arcus senilis, might be an indication of high cholesterol.
Arcus senilis is a white, gray, or blueish ring that forms around the outer part of the cornea, which is the thin covering of the eye. This ring is made up of fatty deposits or lipids that might be in the bloodstream due to increased cholesterol levels and enter the blood vessels near the eye. Comprehensive ophthalmologist Gary S. Hirshfield, MD, notes that having an arcus senilis doesn’t mean it will negatively affect vision or cause loss of eyesight.
However, like other health conditions including diabetes and heart disease the early signs can be found in your eyes. Arcus senilis that results from high cholesterol levels could act as a visual cue to help avoid a heart attack or stroke down the road, so be mindful as when you’re getting ready in the mirror.
However, not all instances of arcus senilis are linked to high cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences suggests that it’s also widely considered to be a symptom of the normal aging process. It’s estimated that about 60 percent of adults ages 50 to 60 have this condition because blood vessels in the eye tend to get more open as you get older, allowing cholesterol and other fats to form around the cornea. But as stated, not all are markers of high cholesterol necessarily.
That’s why it’s important to visit your eye doctor for an annual eye exam, which can help give a specific reason why you have an arcus senilis in one or both of your eyes and what it could mean for your health. Also, you can schedule a cholesterol test with your doctor to check your levels. If it happens to be tied to increased cholesterol, a few simple lifestyle tweaks can help get those levels under control. Unfortunately, there’s currently no treatment or cure for arcus senilis itself though, so the ring itself won’t fade or disappear if you lower your cholesterol.
But it’s still important to adjust your diet to include more natural and unprocessed foods. Eating a two-ounce serving of pecans daily is a yummy snack that’s been shown to reduce cholesterol by nine percent in just two months. Or try sipping an eight to 10 ounce glass of beetroot juice during the day, which helped one woman lower her cholesterol levels by over 50 points after six months. Even stepping outside to soak up the sun for 30 each day can boost your vitamin D-3 levels to allow your body to convert “bad” cholesterol into “good” cholesterol, which prevents clogged arteries.
This is further proof that our eyes aren’t just the window to the soul, but our health as well. Taking a little extra time to see what’s going on with them means we can avoid running into any serious conditions both now and for years to come!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.