It's pretty common for eye doctors to have older patients come in asking if the white part of their eye, the sclera, has a growth or is turning a gray color.

Usually, the culprit is senile scleral plaque, which is commonly seen in people over the age of 70. It is a benign condition and more commonly seen in women.  This condition is symmetrically found on both sides of the eye and is due to age-related degeneration and calcification of the eye muscle insertion into the eye.  In one study, the size of the senile scleral plaque increased as the person aged and was not associated with any medical conditions.  People are asymptomatic, as the plaques do not affect vision and no treatment is needed.

Another commonly asked question is: Why is the colored part of my eye turning white?  

The colored part of the eye is the iris, which is covered by a clear layer called the cornea.  It is actually the edge of the cornea that attaches to the white part of the eye that becomes grey or whitish colored.

This condition is called arcus senilis, which is seen in over 60% of people over the age of 60 and approximately 100% over the age of 80.  There is no visual impairment and no treatment is needed. Sometimes when this condition is seen in younger patients, it may be related to high cholesterol, so a visit to the primary care doctor may be needed.  

These are two very commonly encountered conditions that may cause distress for patients because it seems like their eyes are changing colors.

Thankfully, no treatment is needed for these two conditions, as they do not affect vision.

Article contributed by Dr. Jane Pan

This blog provides general information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician. The content of this blog cannot be reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of Eye IQ.

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