Arcus Senilis

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Eye Health

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about ARCUS SENILIS.

Arcus Senilis, (pronounced “ar-kus see-nil-is”) is a visible whitish-grey arc seen above and below the outer part of the cornea (clear dome shaped part of the eye). It is easily visible in some people and often mistakenly referred to as a cataract by layman. Arcus Senilis is also sometimes referred to as Corneal Arcus or Arcus Cornealis.

Eye Health – Arcus SenilisHOW DOES IT LOOK LIKE IN THE EYE?

Arcus Senilis affects the cornea of the eye. The cornea is the clear transparent dome shaped part of the eye, like the car windscreen. Arcus Senilis appears greyish or whitish over the peripheral part of the cornea. In the initial stages, it appears over the upper and lower part of the cornea. Later, this whitish-grey area on the corneal periphery eventually may become a complete ring around the cornea, making it appear as a white ring around the edge of the clear part of the eye.

WHO GETS ARCUS SENILIS?

Arcus senilis is often seen in the eyes of senior people. It’s caused by fat (lipid) deposits deep in the periphery of the normally clear cornea. Arcus senilis doesn’t affect vision but it does give the doctor a sign. Remember again, as highlighted (in previous issues of the Ipoh Echo) that our eyes are not isolated from things that are happening in our bodies including the effects of aging. It increases with age in both male and female. It however occurs more frequently in men.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF ARCUS SENILIS?

Arcus Senilis is mainly an aged-related change, a sign of aging. However, it may be also seen in younger individuals. When it is seen in younger individuals, that is, those below the age of 50 years, it is important to look for dyslipidaemia (abnormal amount of lipids or fat in the blood) which is one of the risk factors for coronary heart disease. The formation of Arcus Senilis is more often seen in those having high serum LDL-cholesterol.

In other words, it is seen in aging individuals. The other link is when it occurs in younger people, that is, the association of high serum LDL-cholesterol in such individuals.

SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?

Arcus Senilis does not cause any problems with vision, so there is no need for any concern. You do not need to be running to see an eye doctor for this. It is a harmless condition for the eye.

The only thing that you will need to be concerned about is if you are younger than 50 years old and the Arcus Senilis is visible in your eye. In such instances, it would be wise to get a blood examination done to look for dyslipidaemia, remembering that dyslipidaemia has an association with heart disease.

CAN IT BE TREATED?

Arcus Senilis requires no treatment because it does not cause vision problems. What would need to be looked into and treated is the dyslipidaemia if this is found to be abnormal in order to avoid cardiovascular risk. Arcus Senilis is only a sign – common in aging, to be concerned of only when seen in younger individuals. There is no treatment for arcus senilis by itself. If you are in doubt whether you have such a condition, do consult your local practitioner or eye doctor.

For more information, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah (05-545 5582) or email gilleyecentre@dr.com.