What Causes Yellow Eyes or Jaundice Eyes? Know All About This Eye Condition

If you see your eyes becoming yellow, get yourself checked as it could be jaundice or other serious condition.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: May 06, 2022 11:54 IST
What Causes Yellow Eyes or Jaundice Eyes? Know All About This Eye Condition

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Have you ever noticed your eyes turning pale or yellow without any reason? It could be normal but if this becomes a frequent thing, it might be yellow eyes or jaundice eyes. Not many people know about this condition that is also termed as jaundice eyes because usually this happens when you have jaundice. According to Dr. Neeraj Sanduja, Director and Senior Consultant, Viaan Eye and Retina Centre, Gurgaon, conjunctival icterus, the medical term for yellow eyes, is one type of discoloration of the front of the eye. There are various yellow eyes reason that we will explain in this article. 

What Causes Yellow Eyes or Jaundice Eyes?

The term scleral icterus is sometimes used to describe yellow eyes as well. Jaundice is a discoloration of the skin and eyes caused by elevated levels of a pigment called bilirubin. Yellow eyes are a symptom of jaundice.

  • Jaundice can affect newborns, children, and adults, with the causes varying depending on their age.
  • Jaundice is a symptom that the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts aren't working properly.
  • Bilirubin, an orange-yellow waste compound made up of old or abnormal red blood cells, is one of the functions of the liver.
  • The liver filters bilirubin from the blood, forming bile, which flows through bile ducts to the adjacent gallbladder, where it is stored and eventually excreted by the body.
  • When the liver is damaged and bilirubin levels in the blood rise, it causes a yellow tint to the eyes and skin.
  • A brown colour is produced by higher bilirubin concentrations. Jaundice develops gradually and may go unnoticed at first, but it usually manifests itself first in the whites of the eyes.
jaundice eyes Yellow eyes

 "The yellow discoloration is more noticeable because the whites of the eyes lack the pigment found in skin. While jaundice affects the appearance of the eyes, it has no effect on vision,” quotes Dr. Neeraj Sanduja.

Medical Conditions That Cause Yellow Eyes

Yellow eyes can be caused due to a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Hepatitis is caused by an infection or inflammation of the liver, which damages the organ and impairs its ability to properly process bilirubin, resulting in hepatocellular jaundice.
  • Gallstones can block one or more of the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage. Bile builds up in the blood when it can't flow properly. Obstruction jaundice is the medical term for this condition.
  • Cirrhosis, which is a late stage of liver scarring, impairs the liver's ability to filter bilirubin. Cirrhosis is caused by a variety of liver diseases, such as hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and chronic alcoholism, all of which can result in yellow eyes.
  • Acute pancreatitis, or pancreas infection.
  • Some cancers, such as liver, pancreas, and gallbladder cancer.
  • Hemolytic anaemia, a congenital blood disorder characterised by a lack of healthy red blood cells in the blood.
  • Malaria, a blood infection spread by mosquitos.
  • Sickle cell anaemia and other blood disorders that affect the production and lifespan of red blood cells.
  • Rare genetic disorders that affect bilirubin metabolism in the liver.
jaundice eyes Yellow eyes

Yellow eyes can also be caused by certain medications, such as over-the-counter acetaminophen (when taken in excess) and prescription drugs like penicillin, oral contraceptives, chlorpromazine, and anabolic steroids.

Jaundice Eyes Treatment

It is possible to treat yellow eyes or jaundice eyes if it requires medical intervention. Yellow eye treatment focuses on the underlying medical problem or let’s say, treatment is done after identifying the root cause of yellow eyes. The yellowing of the eyes is not treated in and of itself, but once the condition causing the increased bilirubin is treated, the yellow discoloration of the eyes should improve. The problem that is causing your eyes to turn yellow is treated which eventually helps in bringing eyes back to normal.

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