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Have you ever wondered why some people have black circles that frame the colored part of their eyes, and others don’t?

Those circles, called limbal rings, can vary according to your age, your health, your family history, and several other factors.

Dark, well-defined limbal rings can be seen as a signal of health and attractiveness. As you age, your limbal rings may become less visible, or they might not.

Even though some people see limbal rings as a desirable physical trait, having them (or not) doesn’t necessarily indicate anything about your long-term health. Keep reading to learn more about limbal rings.

Limbal rings are circular areas of pigment around your iris (the colored part of your eye).

Your cornea, which is the membrane that covers your eye like a lens, and the sclera, the white part of your eye, meet at ridges on your eye called the “corneal limbus.” This border is where limbal rings are found.

People with visible limbal rings can’t see better because they have them. But limited research indicates that having a dark, visible limbal ring might be caused by having a less transparent cornea.

Here are pictures of limbal rings, on light and dark-colored eyes.

If you’ve ever locked eyes with a newborn baby or toddler, you may have noticed that their limbal rings are quite prominent.

Most people are born with limbal rings, and they contribute to the big-eyed, adorable gaze we associate with young children.

As you age, your limbal rings will probably start to thin out and become less visible. This typically happens sometime in your 20s. But some people’s limbal rings last longer and stay prominent all the way into adulthood.

If you have lighter-colored eyes, you’re more likely to have limbal rings that remain visible as you age. Some people with darker-colored eyes have bluish limbal rings that can remain quite visible, as well.

There’s nothing you can do to stop your limbal rings from thinning out. The way that your limbal rings look as you age is related to your genetics.

Limbal rings aren’t associated with any health conditions that doctors and researchers know of. Having limbal rings (or not having them, for that matter) isn’t a reason to worry.

Light blue, white, or gray rings around your eyes, known as corneal arcus, can be a cause for concern, especially if you’re under 40. Corneal arcus that appear before age 40 can indicate high cholesterol and possibly be a sign that you’re at a higher risk of a stroke.

Beauty is always, of course, in the eye of the beholder. But some research indicates people with dark, visible limbal rings may be more attractive to others.

A 2017 study showed that heterosexual women found men who had prominent limbal rings to be more attractive as partners. A 2011 research that also found limbal rings were a prominent indicator of whether or not someone was attractive.

Researchers theorize that because limbal rings are more prominent during your younger years, potential partners may subconsciously associate a person with limbal rings with youth and health.

You can’t do anything to make limbal rings come back after they’ve thinned out or faded, but you can purchase cosmetic contact lenses that give the temporary appearance of limbal rings.

Almost everyone is born with limbal rings, but most people lose them as they age.

Some people find limbal rings very attractive in a partner. Losing your limbal rings (or still having limbal rings into your 30s and beyond) doesn’t indicate any health condition, and it’s not a cause for concern.