“Why are my eyes yellow?” is one of the more alarming questions you would ask yourself in front of the bathroom mirror one morning.
Yellow eyes, or more accurately yellowed sclera (the white surface of the eyeball) isn’t unusual, but it does indicate a health issue you need to address.
Why are My Eyes Yellow All of a Sudden?
Most people will recognize that yellow eyes is a sign of jaundice and it can appear all of a sudden, although it’s usually more gradual.
Jaundice occurs when the body is unable to remove bilirubin, a substance that forms as the body breaks down hemoglobin protein in old red blood cells. Normally, the liver takes care of bilirubin by mixing it with bile to store in the gallbladder. From there, it travels to the small intestines to help digest fats.
Sometimes, too much bilirubin builds up in the body. Gallstones form in the gallbladder when there is too much bilirubin in it. Jaundice is a common symptom of liver diseases including malaria, hepatitis, cirrhosis, or cancer of the gallbladder or pancreas, an organ essential to dissolving fats.
Here are other instances that can trigger jaundice:
- Medications: penicillin, steroids, acetaminophen, and even birth control pills are linked to liver disease
- Reaction to a blood transfusion
- Hemolytic anemia, in which too many blood cells are destroyed, usually caused by certain autoimmune diseases, medications, or liver problems
- Genetic (inherited) diseases like Gilbert’s Syndrome, which affects the liver’s ability to process bilirubin
- A blockage in or injury to an internal organ
Some newborns are born with jaundice or develop it shortly after birth. Although they won’t notice it, their parents will. They shouldn’t panic. Neonatal jaundice is pretty common and treated by speeding up the feeding and digestive process to release excess bilirubin. It also helps to spend some time in filtered sunlight, like in front of a window on a sunny day. Many hospitals have specially-lighted cribs to quickly treat infants with jaundice.
How to Get Rid of Yellow Eyes?
Jaundice is a symptom of other diseases and conditions. Treating it means addressing the underlying cause. In some cases, surgery is necessary and will clear up those yellowed eyes and other symptoms. For example, gallbladder disease is rarely treatable; an inflamed gallbladder usually needs to be removed. Once it’s gone, jaundice goes away. Similarly, surgery to open a blocked bile duct will relieve jaundice.
Most hepatitis is caused by a virus. Treating it clears up jaundice once the virus is cleared from the body.
Hepatitis can be also be cured with antifungals or antibiotics, depending on the cause. Even liver diseases like cirrhosis can be managed by addressing alcohol abuse (although not all cases are caused by that) and standard disease treatments.
Diet can also alleviate jaundice and yellow eyes. Put more healthy foods in your diet, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Foods that are high in fiber are great to aid digestion and help move bilirubin out of the body. If you like meat, eat leaner cuts. Try to fill up more on these foods — you’ll find that they will leave you feeling full for longer periods of time.
Pay attention to what you drink, too.
- Drinking more water helps the liver clean out bilirubin and toxins.
- Moderate coffee consumption lowers the risk for cirrhosis and reducing the level of harmful enzymes.
- Herbal teas do the same minus the caffeine
Take a look at our other blog articles to learn more about eye health.