Yellow Eyes (white Of The Eyes): 5 Main Reasons And Methods Of Treatment

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Video: Yellow Eyes (white Of The Eyes): 5 Main Reasons And Methods Of Treatment

Video: Yellow Eyes (white Of The Eyes): 5 Main Reasons And Methods Of Treatment
Video: [Health Talk] Causes and Conditions of Yellow Eyes 2023, March
Yellow Eyes (white Of The Eyes): 5 Main Reasons And Methods Of Treatment
Yellow Eyes (white Of The Eyes): 5 Main Reasons And Methods Of Treatment

Yellow eyes: reasons, what to do?

Yellow eyes
Yellow eyes

Yellow eyes indicate that a person is developing jaundice. This term is understood as a pathological condition that accompanies diseases of the liver, blood, pancreas, bile ducts. All these disorders lead to blockage of the bile ducts and an increase in the level of bilirubin in the blood.

With jaundice, not only the sclera of the eyes turn yellow, the patient's skin begins to itch, the body temperature rises, pains occur in the right hypochondrium, and a bitter taste appears in the mouth. Additional symptoms of jaundice are: nausea and vomiting, insomnia, enlargement of the liver in size.


  • What is eye white?
  • Causes of yellowing eyes
  • Diagnostics of the causes leading to yellowing of eyes
  • Treatment of diseases that lead to yellowing of the eyes

What is eye white?

The white of the eye is its sclera. This is the largest part of the organ of vision. The sclera should normally be white. Actually for this reason it is called protein. The sclera consists mainly of connective tissue, due to which it has exactly a white color.

Causes of yellowing eyes

Causes of yellowing eyes
Causes of yellowing eyes

The eyes turn yellow because the level of bilirubin in the blood rises. Bilirubin is a bile pigment that is yellow in color. It appears in the blood as a result of the breakdown of hemoglobin, myoglobin and cytochromes. However, this bilirubin is called indirect because it is toxic to the body. The faster it is possible to neutralize it, the less harm it will cause to health.

Indirect bilirubin in the liver is neutralized. It is this organ that binds its molecules with glucuronic acid, due to which they are transformed into direct bilirubin molecules. He, through the hepatic ducts, enters the bile and is excreted from the body. Some of it can be absorbed back into the bloodstream. Therefore, the total bilirubin level consists of direct and indirect bilirubin. The share of the latter should not exceed 25%.

Normally, the level of total bilirubin in the blood is 8.5-20.5 μmol / L. If these values go beyond the mark of 30-35 μmol / l, then the patient develops jaundice, in which the whites of the eyes and skin turn yellow. Excess bilirubin penetrates into their structure and gives them the appropriate color.

The reasons for the yellowing of the sclera of the eyes are the following:

  • Liver disease.
  • Diseases of the blood.
  • Diseases of the biliary tract.
  • Disorders of metabolic processes in the body.
  • Acute or chronic pancreatitis.

Each of these reasons should be considered in more detail.

Video: Live Healthy! Liver health "bilirubin test":

Yellow eyes with liver disease

Yellow eyes with liver disease
Yellow eyes with liver disease

It is the liver that neutralizes indirect bilirubin. If, due to one or another disease, she cannot cope with her duties, then the concentration of this substance in the blood increases. A person can visually assess this by the yellowed sclera of the eyes.

Liver diseases in which the eyes turn yellow:

  • Hepatitis. It develops when liver cells are damaged by bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins. In this case, the organ ceases to cope with its duties to the fullest, which leads to a characteristic change in the color of the eyes and skin.
  • Tsive's syndrome. This is a rare disorder that develops in people with alcoholism. The liver increases in size, the eyes and skin turn yellow, and the concentration of lipids in the blood increases. In the future, patients develop fatty hepatosis, which can be fatal.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver. With cirrhosis of the liver, its normal tissues are replaced by pathological connective tissue cells. Over time, an increasing number of hepatocytes die, which will certainly affect the functioning of the organ. The causes of cirrhosis are very diverse: alcoholism, viral hepatitis, sclerosing cholangitis, drug poisoning, or their prolonged use, Wilson-Konovalov disease.
  • Liver cancer. This pathology is called hepatocellular carcinoma. The tumor is formed from abnormal liver cells. Its occurrence can be provoked by occupational hazards, for example, frequent contact of a person with pesticides, as well as poisoning of the body with salts of heavy metals. The tumor grows and develops rapidly, displacing normal liver cells. As a result, a person's eye sclera and skin turn yellow.

  • Echinococcosis. With this disease, the liver will be affected by parasites. Echinococci are tapeworms that enter the human body when eating food or water seeded with their eggs. Infection is possible through contact with animals. The carriers of the infection are dogs, horses, pigs, cows, etc. In the liver, the helminth is transformed into a cyst, which will contain many embryos of echinococcus. If echinococcosis is not treated, the cyst will grow, squeezing the tissues of the organ. At some point, it will reach a very large size, and the liver will lose the ability to bind indirect bilirubin. As a result, not only the white of the eyes will turn yellow, but also the skin.
  • Sarcoidosis This is a chronic disease in which granulomas form in organs, including the liver. Granulomas are foci with a high concentration of lymphocytes, macrophages and epithelial cells. Past viral infections and intoxication of the body can provoke sarcoidosis. What matters is the genetic predisposition to the disease. As the granulomas grow and grow in size, the work of organs is disrupted. In a patient with liver sarcoidosis, the level of bilirubin in the blood rises, the eyes and skin turn yellow.

  • Amebiasis of the liver. In this disease, the organ is affected by small parasites - amoeba. They first cause inflammation of the liver tissue. If the immune system does not respond properly and the person does not receive treatment, then multiple abscesses (areas filled with pus) develop inside the organ. Disruption of the liver leads to an increase in the level of bilirubin in the blood and yellowing of the white of the eye.

Video: The first signs of liver disease:

Yellowing of the eye sclera with blood diseases

Yellowing of the eye sclera
Yellowing of the eye sclera

Erythrocytes (blood cells) contain a large amount of hemoglobin. The life span of an erythrocyte is 125 days (average). When a blood cell is destroyed, the hemoglobin is released. It is divided into protein and heme. Subsequently, heme becomes indirect bilirubin, which must be processed by the liver.

If a person develops one or another blood disease, then the erythrocytes undergo massive destruction. This leads to the fact that a large amount of indirect bilirubin appears in the blood. It penetrates into tissues, including the eye sclera, which provokes yellowing.

Diseases of the blood that can lead to yellowing of the eyes:

  • Malaria. The disease develops when plasmodium malaria enters the bloodstream. This parasite enters the bloodstream after being bitten by a mosquito. In the liver, the larvae mature, after which they leave it and are introduced into erythrocytes. Red blood cells are destroyed, which leads to the appearance of large amounts of bilirubin in the blood and yellowing of the eye sclera.
  • Erythrocytic membranopathies. This term combines hereditary diseases in which people have congenital defects in certain genes. Such a violation leads to the fact that in a person in the bone marrow, erythrocytes of an irregular shape are produced. They are easily destroyed, their death occurs ahead of schedule and is often massive. During this period, the patient's eyes and skin turn yellow. The most famous membranopathy is Minkowski-Shoffard disease.

  • Erythrocyte enzymopathies. This is a group of hereditary diseases in which a person does not produce red blood cell enzymes that are responsible for controlling metabolism. As a result, red blood cells suffer from a lack of energy and die quickly. A large amount of hemoglobin enters the bloodstream with the development of jaundice, since the liver does not have time to quickly process bilirubin.
  • Erythrocytic hemoglobinopathies. This group of congenital pathologies is accompanied by a violation of the formation of hemoglobin in erythrocytes. This includes beta-thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, etc. Erythrocytes, deprived of hemoglobin, do not have sufficient strength, they quickly disintegrate. As a result, the patient develops hemolytic anemia, jaundice and hypoxia.
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia. In this case, erythrocytes are attacked by the body's own antibodies. Hemoglobin is released from the destroyed erythrocytes, which is later transformed into indirect bilirubin and is deposited in the sclera of the eyes, as well as in other tissues of the body. Autoimmune hemolytic anemias can be caused by gene disorders. Sometimes their development is provoked by the transferred viral or bacterial infections, intoxication of the body, the effect of radiation on it.

  • Babesiosis. The disease develops when a person is infected with the simplest microorganisms of the genus Babesia. They penetrate the bloodstream during a bite by infected ticks. People who are infected with HIV suffer from the disease, as well as constantly contact with pets. A person with normal immunity can be infected, but he will not have symptoms of babesiosis. Babesias enter red blood cells, multiply in them and destroy red blood cells. During this period, the person's sclera and skin will turn yellow, since the level of indirect bilirubin in the blood increases.
  • Intoxication with poisons that lead to the destruction of red blood cells. These include snake venom, insect venom, poison from mushrooms and berries, a number of chemicals (benzene, aniline, arsenic, lead, etc.), as well as other toxic compounds. Yellowing of the eye sclera occurs due to an increase in the level of bilirubin in the blood, which is released from red blood cells damaged by poisons.

Diseases of the biliary tract

Diseases of the biliary tract
Diseases of the biliary tract

Bile, which is produced in the liver, has many functions in the body. It removes excess cholesterol, direct bilirubin, steroids, heavy metals and other unnecessary substances. Before entering the intestines, bile passes through the bile ducts. If these pathways are unhealthy, then bile is unable to continue its movement normally. The pressure in the biliary tract increases, and rupture of their wall may occur. Part of the bile enters the bloodstream, which leads to an increase in the level of direct bilirubin in the blood and the person develops jaundice.

Diseases of the biliary tract, which can provoke yellowing of the eye sclera:

  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis. The causes of the pathology have not yet been clarified. In this case, inflammation of the bile ducts occurs with a change in their walls and difficulty in the outflow of bile. Sometimes the ducts are completely blocked. The more ducts are blocked, the stronger the stagnation of bile in the liver. As a result, together with direct bilirubin in significant quantities, it will begin to penetrate into the bloodstream and provoke the development of jaundice.

  • Cholelithiasis. With this pathology, stones settle in the gallbladder and in the biliary tract. They become an obstacle to the outflow of bile, which leads to the development of jaundice. Disorders of metabolic processes in the body, abnormalities in the development of the gallbladder, biliary dyskinesia, diabetes mellitus, period of childbearing, liver disease, hemolytic anemia, etc., can provoke the debut of gallstone disease.
  • Tumor growths of the bile ducts, gallbladder, duodenum or pancreas. Any tumor is a mechanical obstacle to the outflow of bile, which leads to the development of jaundice.
  • Opisthorchiasis. It is a parasitic disease. Worm larvae enter the human body when they eat fish that has not undergone sufficient heat treatment. Parasites live in the gallbladder and bile ducts. There they multiply and also damage the walls of the organ. Over time, they become narrower, which disrupts the outflow of bile and leads to yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin.

Yellowing of the eye sclera due to metabolic disorders

Yellowing of the eye sclera
Yellowing of the eye sclera

Yellowing of the whites of the eyes can occur with the following diseases:

  • Hemochromatosis is a congenital disorder of iron metabolism in the body. It begins to accumulate in significant quantities in tissues and organs. Often with this pathology, cirrhosis of the liver develops. The organ stops functioning normally, which leads to the development of jaundice with a characteristic change in the color of the whites of the eyes.
  • Wilson-Konovalov's disease. This disease has a chronic course, it is inherited, and manifests itself in a violation of the exchange of copper in the body. As a result, copper builds up in the liver. This element is toxic to the organ, therefore it negatively affects its functioning. As a result, the patient develops cirrhosis with the corresponding symptoms. In addition, copper can be deposited in other organs, including the eye sclera, resulting in yellow-green patches surrounding the iris.
  • Gilbert's disease. This is a hereditary disorder that leads to the fact that liver cells are unable to bind indirect bilirubin and render it harmless. As a result, it accumulates in the body, which is manifested by yellowing of the sclera of the eyes and skin.
  • Crigler-Nayar Syndrome. The disease is inherited. During its development, liver cells do not have an enzyme that would allow them to bind indirect bilirubin. It accumulates in the blood and tissues, including proteins.
  • Dabin-Johnson syndrome. In this disease, bilirubin cannot leave the liver cells, accumulates in them, and then enters the bloodstream.
  • Amyloidosis. This is a systemic disease in which amyloid accumulates in the tissues of various organs, which leads to a violation of protein metabolism in the body. Amyloid itself is not toxic, but its deposits in the internal organs negatively affect their functioning. The more protein there is in the liver, the more intense the symptoms of liver failure. As a result, the level of indirect bilirubin in the patient's blood rises, which leads to yellowing of the eye sclera.

Pancreatitis as a cause of yellowing of the eyes

With pancreatitis, the pancreas becomes inflamed. It swells, increases in size, presses on the bile ducts, which disrupts the entry of bile into the duodenum. Bile stagnates, enters the bloodstream, and the bilirubin contained in it settles in the skin and in the eye sclera, which leads to their yellowing.

A wide variety of reasons can provoke pancreatitis, including: taking medications, alcohol abuse, tumors, parasitic invasions, body poisoning, etc.

Diagnostics of the causes leading to yellowing of eyes

Diagnosis of causes
Diagnosis of causes

Diagnostic measures aimed at establishing the causes of yellowing of the eye sclera will depend on what kind of disease is suspected.

To begin with, the patient is interviewed and examined. In the future, he is prescribed ultrasound and CT of the abdominal cavity.

The patient will definitely need to pass a general and biochemical blood test, urine and feces analysis, etc.

With liver diseases, a person most often has pain in the right hypochondrium, body temperature rises, general weakness develops, and skin rashes appear.

With parasitic invasions, the nature of the stool changes, blood may appear in it. In patients with cirrhosis, the gums often bleed, the skin itchy, and the palms become covered with a rash. A blood test in patients with hepatic diseases has characteristic changes:

  • ESR increases.
  • The level of platelets, lymphocytes and leukocytes decreases.
  • The level of eosinophils increases.
  • ALT and AST indicators are growing.
  • The level of albumin decreases.

To detect viral hepatitis, a blood test is performed by PCR. In severe cases, a liver biopsy is done. This study is performed on patients with suspected cancerous growths.

To detect blood diseases, the patient is prescribed a comprehensive examination. Blood is taken for general and biochemical analysis, and its immunological examination is carried out. It is possible to carry out ultrasound of the liver and spleen, sampling of bone marrow puncture.

The main method for diagnosing gallstone disease is cholecystography and ultrasound of the gallbladder. CT or MRI is prescribed for patients with suspected cancerous growths of the internal organs.

Most diseases associated with metabolic disorders are hereditary. Therefore, their first symptoms appear in early childhood. Without fail, blood is taken from such patients and its genetic analysis is performed.

To detect pancreatitis, it is required to take blood for a general and biochemical analysis, perform an ultrasound scan of the pancreas.

Treatment of diseases that lead to yellowing of the eyes

Yellowing of the eyes is a symptom that develops with serious health problems. Treatment depends on what kind of pathology provoked this violation.

Treatment of liver diseases

Treatment of liver diseases
Treatment of liver diseases

Depending on the disease, the following therapy may be prescribed to the patient:

  • Hepatitis is treated with antiparasitic, antiviral and antibacterial drugs. If hepatitis is of an autoimmune nature, then the patient is prescribed cytostatics and immunosuppressants. To remove intoxication from the body, hepatoprotectors and antidotes are shown.
  • Qiwe's syndrome requires refusal to drink alcohol. In parallel, patients should receive hepatoprotectors.
  • With cirrhosis of the liver, you need to stop drinking alcohol. Patients are prescribed Ursodeoxycholic acid. Depending on the cause of cirrhosis, the patient is prescribed antiviral drugs, immunosuppressants, antibiotics. Be sure to stick to your diet.
  • Choleretic acids should be taken by people with sclerosing cholangitis.
  • Anticoagulants and thrombolytics are indicated for patients with Budd-Chiari syndrome.
  • Cancer neoplasms of the liver require their removal with further radiation and chemotherapy.
  • With echinococcosis of the liver, the patient is prescribed antiparasitic drugs. In particular, Albendazole. If the cyst with larvae is large, then it is removed surgically.
  • With sarcoidosis of the liver, the patient will need to take cytostatics and immunosuppressants. If the organ cannot be restored, then its transplantation is necessary.
  • With amebiasis, the patient is prescribed Metronidazole, Emetin, Tinidazole, Ornidazole or other amoebocytes.

Treatment of blood diseases

Treatment of blood diseases
Treatment of blood diseases

With blood diseases that lead to yellowing of the eye sclera, it is most often possible to cope with conservative methods:

  • Malaria is treated with antimalarial drugs. It can be Quinine, Chloroquine, Mefloquine, etc. With the development of complications of the disease, the patient is prescribed anticonvulsants, antibiotics, red blood cell transfusion, hemodialysis.
  • Erythrocyte membranopathy requires removal of the spleen, transfusion of erythrocytes, taking vitamins of group B. Sometimes the patient is prescribed steroid drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs and cholekinetics.
  • With erythrocyte enzymopathy, the patient is transfused with erythrocyte mass, or whole blood (if the patient develops a hemolytic crisis). In severe pathology, bone marrow transplantation is required.
  • With erythrocyte hemoglobinopathy, the patient is prescribed a blood transfusion, taking vitamins B9 and B12, and iron-containing preparations are prescribed. Removal of the spleen and bone marrow transplant are possible.
  • With autoimmune anemia, the patient is prescribed immunosuppressants and cytostatics. Possible blood transfusion, plasmapheresis, albumin infusion. To reduce the risk of blood clots, the patient is prescribed anticoagulants.
  • With babesiosis, the patient is shown taking Azithromycin and Quinine.
  • To remove toxic substances from the body, the patient is prescribed an antidote, which allows you to neutralize the effects of poisons. Hemodialysis is mandatory, detoxification drugs are prescribed, the stomach and intestines are washed. In general, therapy depends on the type of poison that has entered the body.

Treatment of diseases of the biliary tract

Treatment of diseases of the biliary tract
Treatment of diseases of the biliary tract

The primary goal for pathologies of the biliary tract is to eliminate the existing stagnation of bile.

Depending on the specific disease, the following measures can be taken:

  • In primary sclerosing cholangitis, anticholestatics are prescribed: Ursodeoxycholic acid, Cholestyramine, etc.
  • With gallstone disease, the patient must adhere to a diet with the exception of fatty and fried foods. In parallel, acids are prescribed that are able to dissolve stones. If there is a blockage of the duct, then it is necessary to destroy the calculus. For this, the patient is referred to shock wave therapy. If the patient has an inflammation of the gallbladder and develops jaundice, then an operation to remove the organ may be performed.
  • Tumor growths are removed surgically, and then the patient is given chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • With opisthorchiasis, Praziquantel is shown. To improve the flow of bile, choleretic drugs are prescribed.

Treatment of metabolic disorders

In case of metabolic disorders in the body, patients are shown taking drugs designed to remove accumulated metabolites. Detoxification therapy is prescribed to patients with hemochromatosis, with Gilbert's and Wilson-Konovalov's disease with symptoms of Dabin-Johnson and Crigler-Nayyar.

If the patient has amyloidosis, then the intake of immunosuppressants, cytostatics and hepatoprotectors is required. Therapy is selected on an individual basis.

With pancreatitis

In acute pancreatitis, the patient is shown complete food rest. Food is administered parenterally. When an acute attack is stopped, the patient is prescribed antacids, ranitidine and other drugs aimed at reducing the production of gastric juices.

In parallel, another direction of treatment is carried out - the intake of enzymes. These can be drugs such as pain therapy, proteolysis inhibitors are prescribed. Festal, Mezim, Creon, Pancreatin, etc.


The author of the article: Gorshenina Elena Ivanovna | Gastroenterologist

Education: Diploma in the specialty "General Medicine" received at the Russian State Medical University named after N. I. Pirogova (2005). Postgraduate studies in the specialty "Gastroenterology" - educational and scientific medical center.

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