Causes and cure of yellow eyes

Causes and cure of yellow eyes

The sclera, the white part of your eyes, marks the eye health. If ever this part starts to look yellow, it means there must be some problem in the body. This yellowish colour can be due to jaundice, this can be caused by some medications or a host of medical conditions. Many possible causes for yellow eyes have a connection with problems in the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas, which produce an excess amount of a substance called bilirubin in the blood.

The first step to get rid of the yellow eyes is to diagnose the underlying medical condition. If yellow or any other colour develops in your eyes, then you should see a doctor without any delay.


The medical term for yellow eyes is conjunctival icterus or scleral icterus. Generally, the symptom of jaundice is a discolouration of the skin and eyes to yellow by an excessive amount of a pigment called bilirubin.

Newborns, children and adults can have jaundice. However, the reason for jaundice in each age group differs. Jaundice indicates improper functioning of liver, gallbladder and bile ducts.

The liver purges the pigment of bilirubin which is an orange-yellow waste compound made up of old or abnormal red blood cells. The liver typically filters out bilirubin from the blood and makes fluid called bile, which flows through bile ducts to the nearby gallbladder. Bile accumulates in the gallbladder and finally, it is expelled by the body.

When the liver does not correctly work, then bilirubin piles up in the blood. Then it appears on the eyes and skin as a yellow tint. If there is a high concentration of bilirubin, then the colour turns to a brown shade.

Jaundice begins so slowly that it goes unnoticed initially, and then it typically appears in the sclera, the whites of the eyes. Although jaundice changes the colour of the eyes, it does not affect vision.

Medical Conditions 

Newborn Jaundice: Newborn infants can have jaundice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that nearly 60% of all babies develop jaundice because their livers are too immature to process bilirubin.

Mild cases of jaundice in infants generally go away without medication. Light therapy (phototherapy) helps reduce bilirubin levels and provides quick recovery. However, 5 per cent affected infants need proper treatment. 

Infection or inflammation of the liver (Hepatitis) severely affects the liver, which aggravates its capability to process bilirubin appropriately. Therefore, hepatocellular jaundice sets in as a result.

Autoimmune diseases hit the immune system of the body and also produce Hepatitis. Hepatitis A, B, and C viruses may badly affect the liver cells, which consequently develop either acute (short-lived) or chronic (long-term) Hepatitis and yellow eyes.

Obstruction jaundice: Bile flows from the liver to the gallbladder through the ducts. If there is a blockage in the gallstones, then the bile is unable to flow and eventually builds up in the blood. Such a situation produces obstruction jaundice.

Other medical conditions: Acute pancreatitis, cancers of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder, Hemolytic anaemia, Malaria, rare genetic disorders in the liver are some other medical conditions that can develop yellow eyes.

Specific medications 

The prescription drugs such as penicillin, oral contraceptives, Chlorpromazine and anabolic steroids can also cause yellow eyes.


Pinguecula is a yellowish growth produced on the upper part of the sclera. So the entire white part of an eye does not become yellow. Pingueculae are developed if the eyes are exposed too much to UV radiation, which can be from the Sun or artificial sources. If pinguecula goes larger, then surgery can help remove the yellowish growth.


Cirrhosis is the severe scarring of the liver. In the last stages, the liver will function poorly. Toxins such as alcohol or viral infections cause scarring. The liver does many fundamental body functions. It produces bile to absorb dietary fats, cholesterol, and vitamins A, D, E, and K. It stores sugar and vitamins for later use by the body. It purifies the blood and removes toxins such as alcohol and bacteria from your system. It creates blood clotting proteins. It more affects men than women.

Tips for cure

The adaptation of some appropriate lifestyle helps the organs to function correctly and reduce symptoms.

The following are tips that help reduce the yellowing of eyes:

  • Be hydrated.
  • Increase the use of dietary fibre (fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains)
  • Consume lean protein (fish, nuts, and legumes )
  • Do not eat processed or packaged foods.
  • Do not eat refined carbohydrates, found in sugary baked goods and candies.
  • Do not drink alcohol in excess.
  • Do not use tobacco products.
  • Do not use illegal drugs.
  • Do exercise daily.

Treatment for yellow eyes

Doctors do not treat the yellowing of the eyes, instead, they identify the underlying medical condition and remedy it. For instance, once the cause of bilirubin increase is treated, then the yellow discolouration of eyes goes away. 

Along with yellow eyes, there may be other symptoms such as fatigue, fever, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea and sudden weight loss.

A blood test for bilirubin will be needed, a complete blood count and other liver tests help the medical specialist to diagnose the real problem causing the yellowing of the eyes. 

If alcohol or drug use is part of the diagnosis, then avoid those substances to start the healing process.


Medical specialists suggest that jaundice affected people should keep well-hydrated and to eat more liver-friendly foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and nuts. As soon as the liver recovers with treatment, jaundice and yellow eyes will be cured.

Consulting an eye doctor

In case of yellow eyes, you should not delay in consulting an eye specialist who will conduct a complete examination and if necessary can refer you to another physician. Never ignore the yellowing of the eyes. The diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious complications and organ damage.


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