Yellow eyes are a symptom of a condition rather than a condition unto itself. This yellowing of the white of the eye, which can also affect the skin and the mucus membranes, is called jaundice. It happens when red blood cells break down faster than the liver can process them, resulting in a build-up of bilirubin in the bloodstream. Yellow eyes and skin are common in newborns and can usually be easily treated. Yellow eyes in an adult, however, typically means there is cause for serious concern regarding problems of the liver or bile ducts.
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Schedule an appointment with your health care provider. Be prepared to undergo a complete physical examination and to provide your physician with a complete medical history.
Determine the underlying condition that is causing the whites of your eyes to turn yellow. In adults the elevated levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream that cause yellowing of the eyes are called pathologic jaundice, and can be produced by a wide range of conditions, from a blockage of the bile ducts to cirrhosis of the liver to pancreatic cancer.
Follow your physician's recommendation for treatment of the underlying condition. There is no remedy for pathologic jaundice apart from treating the underlying condition.
Have your baby evaluated by a qualified health care provider for physiologic jaundice. This is a common condition among all newborns, although it is more prevalent among premature births. If the jaundice is considered mild there may be no need for treatment. For more severe cases the physician may recommended additional measures.
Increase frequency of feeding. This will help the infant to stay hydrated and may stimulate more frequent bowel movements, which can help to pass excess amounts of bilirubin.
Follow your physician's recommendations regarding phototherapy (light therapy). This usually involves laying the infant unclothed under special blue lights, sometimes called "bililights," for a specified period of time. In severe cases a blood transfusion may be required.
Tips and warnings
- There is no home remedy that will clear up yellowing of the eyes.
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