Cholesterol Spots in the Eye

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high cholesterol eye ring

Warning signs of high cholesterol often first manifest themselves on hands, skin and eyes in the form of “cholesterol spots.”

Arcus Senilis, or white rings in the cornea, are often an indicator of elevated cholesterol. While they’re most frequently seen among older individuals, these rings can appear in younger individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia as well.

Common Causes

Cholesterol is essential to our bodies’ proper functioning and is found in every cell, used for hormone production, vitamin D production and other functions. When someone has too much cholesterol in their system, however, it can build up in blood vessels and cause blockages which obstruct blood flow to the retina resulting in blindness if left untreated. Eye exams provide a vital indication of overall cholesterol levels; doctors are trained to detect changes to eye blood vessels during dilation exams.

A thin grey ring appearing around the iris is one of the telltale signs of elevated cholesterol in the eyes, signaling high cholesterol and increased risk for retinal vein occlusion, wherein blood vessels that feed into retina become blocked due to cholesterol deposits. This condition is more likely to occur among people who inherit genetically elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides – known as familial hyperlipidemia.

Yellow fatty deposits on the skin around the eyes are a telltale sign of high cholesterol levels. This condition, known as drusen, is caused by excess levels of cholesterol in the body, often combined with Graves’ Disease – an overactive thyroid gland which leads to protruding eyeballs, vision loss, and dry eyes – these conditions may be avoided by eating foods low in cholesterol and sodium; attending regular eye exams; and avoiding tobacco products altogether.

An indicator of high cholesterol in people under 40 is a blue or yellow ring around their cornea, usually caused by fatty deposits at its periphery, usually as a result of elevated levels of cholesterol or triglycerides in their system. It should prompt an eye doctor to test blood cholesterol levels; cholesterol deposits may also appear on hands, elbows, knees and thicken Achilles tendon and various tendons in feet and hands as a further warning sign of elevated levels.


Many of the symptoms associated with high cholesterol may not be immediately noticeable, but one organ that can send out signals is your eye. A telltale sign is when there’s an unusual white, gray or blue ring around the cornea (outer layer of front part of eye) known as “arcus senilis.” Usually only seen among people over 40; it may occur earlier if high cholesterol and triglycerides run in your family (familial hyperlipidemia).

Pingueculas, yellowish fatty lumps on the surface of your eye that may or may not be painful, are an early telltale sign of high cholesterol. Other symptoms of elevated levels may include chest pain that indicates too much artery-clogging cholesterol is in your bloodstream and dark blotches on your retina which leak fluid distorting vision known as macular degeneration.

Cholesterol deposits often form on hands, elbows, knees and surrounding skin of eyes – leaving an unsightly white ring around your eyelid. They may even thicken Achilles tendon or other tendons within fingers causing problems.

High cholesterol can lead to blood clotting, leading to stroke or heart attack. Your doctor can detect evidence of this clotting in the walls of your eye vessels – they even use special cameras to take detailed pictures of both eyes and their surrounding blood vessels!

Other signs of high cholesterol levels include drooping eyelids, blurred vision and an overactive thyroid gland. If these symptoms arise for you, seek medical assistance immediately – the sooner a solution is sought the less likely long-term damage will occur to both health and vision. In addition to managing cholesterol, try smoking less, limiting alcohol consumption and eating a diet rich in fiber-rich foods; medications may be necessary as well.


A 71-year-old male presented with a 6-week history of decreased vision in his right eye. On examination, an abnormal yellow or copper-colored refractile body was located near the first bifurcation of an inferior retinal blood vessel – this is known as an endogenous retinal embolus or cholesterol plaque and typically originates from an ulcerated atheromatous plaque in the carotid artery and may occlude blood from reaching retinal vessels, leading to visual loss. This case exemplifies why retinal blood vessels play such an essential role in detecting elevated cholesterol levels within an individual’s system while early recognition and treatment will reduce risks associated with cardiovascular events.

Another telltale sign of high cholesterol levels is arcus senilis – a blue or yellow ring around the cornea that indicates high levels of cholesterol throughout your body, including in retinal blood vessels and even your brain – usually seen more commonly among people under 40 and resulting in double vision or even loss of peripheral vision on one side.

Fat deposits that appear as white, yellow, or gray ring around the outer corneal margin is a more serious symptom that is linked to elevated cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. In children this is known as “arcus juvenilis”, while it could signal familial hypercholesterolemia — an inherited genetic condition marked by excessive levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides — should blood tests be undertaken in order to confirm diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolemia. If one displays this sign it’s wiser to undergo blood tests in order to be certain whether one has familial hypercholesterolemia or not.


Eye arteries provide a convenient opportunity to monitor cholesterol levels. Changes in these blood vessels often signal high cholesterol and increased risk for heart disease or other medical issues. Yellow fatty deposits on the eyelid, known as pinguecula, may indicate high cholesterol. On the other hand, grey or white rings around your cornea (known as arcus senilis) could indicate familial hypercholesterolemia and increase your risk for retinal vein occlusion — potentially leading to blindness. Regular eye exams with dilation as well as following a healthy diet will help avoid this situation; genetic testing will reveal whether you or other first-degree relatives are susceptible.

About the Author:
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Alexander Suprun

Alex started his first web marketing campaign in 1997 and continues harvesting this fruitful field today. He helped many startups and well-established companies to grow to the next level by applying innovative inbound marketing strategies. For the past 26 years, Alex has served over a hundred clients worldwide in all aspects of digital marketing and communications. Additionally, Alex is an expert researcher in healthcare, vision, macular degeneration, natural therapy, and microcurrent devices. His passion lies in developing medical devices to combat various ailments, showcasing his commitment to innovation in healthcare.


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