Home EyeDiscolored Eyes Eye Discoloration, Yellowing Whites, Around and Under Eye Discoloring

Eye Discoloration, Yellowing Whites, Around and Under Eye Discoloring

by Dr. Joe Morales

Eye discoloration occurs when the color of the iris changes. Eye discoloration may cause yellowing of eye whites. Moreover, the discoloration may appear under or around the eyes. In this article will dwell much on eye discoloration causes, discoloration under the eyes and around the eyes and finally eye discoloration treatment. This condition may cause itching and inflammation around the eyes.

Causes of discolored eye whites

The colored part of the eye is known as the iris. The color of iris is in most cases determined by the genetic material inherited by the offspring from their parents. In most cases, the color of the eye remains unchanged up to the age of three years. It can also be caused by medical conditions like melanomas, prednisone, topical eye drops and other antibiotics.

Eye discoloration and yellowing around eye whites

Yellowing around eye whites

Eye discoloration can, however, occur later in life and may be caused by genetics, disease or medication. It is highly advisable that one should see the ophthalmologist if he/she notices some changes in the color of your sclera which is the white part of the eye or your iris. This will help rule out medical problems.


Eye color is generally believed to be hereditary, where the offspring inherit from their parent. However, scientists are beginning to understand that there is a complex, multi-genetic process that really dictates eye color. One aspect of this process is the creation of melanocytes. These are cells which are responsible for creating pigmentation.

Individuals with blue eye are said to have little melanocytes in their iris while people with brown eyes have the largest number of melanocytes. Melanocytes are also responsible for hair and skin color. Just as aging can trigger biological changes to melanocytes in hair, resulting in grey hair, it may also cause changes to melanocytes in the iris, resulting in changes in eye color.


Eye discoloration can at times be as a result of certain diseases and medical conditions. Primary acquired melanosis, for example, is a medical condition that most often disturbs middle-age or elderly people, resulting in a brown patchy appearance to the sclera of the eye.

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According to researchers at the University Of Utah John A. Moran Eye Center, “certain forms of primary acquired melanosis can progress to melanoma, a very deadly form of skin cancer.” Other diseases and medical conditions that can cause your eyes to discolor include Addison’s disease, macular degeneration, and pigmentary glaucoma.

Certain medications

Eye color changes can sometimes result as a side effect of medication or herbal supplementation. Argyrosis is a condition in which the sclera develops a bluish gray color due to the deposit of silver into the skin tissue and is generally caused by excessive intake of silver salts.

Latanoprost, a medication used to treat glaucoma and eye pressure conditions, can increase brown pigmentation in the eye, causing light eyes to become darker. Long term use of prednisone may also cause discoloration of the sclera.


Eye discoloration may sometimes occur as a result of injury to the eye. Stanford University geneticist Azita Alizadeh cites singer David Bowie as an example of a person who experienced eye color changes due to injury.

Bowie, who appears to have one dark eye and one blue one, received an eye injury during a fight which caused his pupil to remain enlarged, giving the appearance of one darker iris. Injury to the eye can cause permanent discoloration to the sclera or may cause injury to the melanocytes, causing them to increase or decrease pigmentation production.

Yellowing whites of the eye

When the whites of the eyes turn yellow, it is an indicator that there is something wrong in the body. A yellowish color to the skin and the whites of the eyes is a symptom of jaundice. It is caused by excessively high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow waste substance found in bile, the liver greatly uses this liquid in the breakdown of fats.

Causes of yellowing eye whites

The yellow discoloration of eyes causes due to the pile of bilirubin or also known as bile salts in your blood stream. This usually cause the yellowish discoloration. This condition does not affect the sclera of eyes alone, which is the white portion, but it also can be seen in your palms and soles of your feet.

Below are some of the major causes:

1. Jaundice

Jaundice is caused by many liver problems that makes it not to function effectively. The consumption of alcoholic drinks is one of the risk factors that cause severe damage to the kidney. Alcoholic drinks cause what we call liver cirrhosis.

2. Hepatitis

Another cause is hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver that results in its decreased function. You did not mention any other symptoms.

If you have had yellow eyes for so long but no other health problems, you may have a mild liver condition called Gilbert’s syndrome. Gilbert’s syndrome results in your liver not properly processing bilirubin, but it is harmless.

Other causes of yellowing eye whites

There are other conditions that may lead to yellowing eye whites, below is a brief summary of the conditions and infections:

  • Liver cirrhosis: this refers to the inflammation of the liver which in most cases come as a result of alcoholism.
  • Eating too much proteins
  • The presence of bile stones: bile stones cause the blockage of the flow of bile and thus cause the accumulation of bile to take place.
  • Liver infections

The above mentioned conditions can lead to build-up of liver bile within the body. The individuals with yellow eye whites resulting from excessive bile may experience symptoms of yellowed skin, fatigue, loss of appetite and loss of weight.

Yellowing whites of the eyes in newborns

Newly born babies are prone to jaundice since their liver is still maturing. The substance called bilirubin often builds up faster than the ability of a newborn’s immature liver can break it down, causing jaundice to occur frequently. Apart from a yellowing of the skin, one of the clearest signs of jaundice in a newborn is the yellowing of the eye whites.

Yellow eyes are only one symptom of newborn jaundice. There are several other symptoms caused by jaundice in newborns, this include;

  • The newborn having yellow skin
  • Lack of energy
  • High Irritability
  • Suffering from fever
  • Having trouble with eating

Yellowing whites of the eyes in older children and adults

Jaundice is not very common in in older children and adults. Therefore, yellowing whites of the eye in older children and adults raises a very big concern. Unlike yellow skin, which may be from eating too many yellow and orange vegetables, yellow eye whites are nearly always a sign of jaundice. Yellow eye whites and jaundice in older children and adults normally indicate an underlying medical issue.

Older children and adults may notice yellowing of the skin and eyes without other symptoms. Jaundice often occurs with other uncomfortable symptoms, however, including:

  • Itching on the skin surface
  • A general feeling of being unwell
  • Fullness in the stomach
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Pale stools
  • Dark urine

All cases of jaundice should be taken seriously in order to get rid of the serious cases of jaundice. There are a few harmless causes of jaundice in older children and adults that are less common. This includes: Gilbert’s syndrome, which is a genetic liver condition where the liver does not process bilirubin properly.

Gilbert’s syndrome may cause occasional attacks of jaundice and irritable bowel syndrome. However, the condition does not have much impact on the health of the person overall neither does it increase their risk of other complications.

Home remedy for yellowing eye whites

Yellowing eye whites can be treated naturally at home by the use of natural treatments. Home remedies are very effective, affordable and less harmful to the body. Below are some of the home remedies for yellowing eye whites:

1. Drink plenty of fluids

Hydrate and continue to drink plenty of fluid. This way, it allows and facilitates the excretion of the toxins out of the body.

2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

It is advisable to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, however, it is much preferred if you eat simple sugars as well. The digestion and breakdown of simple sugars facilitate the healing and regeneration process of the liver.

3. Get some rest and enough sleep

With the build-up of toxins in your blood stream it would usually cause you to become irritable and you tend to get tired easily.

How to prevent yellowing eye whites

In order to prevent the yellowing eye whites, it is advisable to:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol can cause a lot of damage to your liver.
  • Eat plenty of nutritious and healthy food.
  • Drink lots of fluid a day.
  • Observe and practice a healthy lifestyle.
  • Get yourself vaccinated with hepatitis immunization shots.

Discoloration under eyes

What causes discoloration under the eyes? This is a common problem that can be as a result of allergies, certain medication when used and the normal effects of aging. Below are the major causes of discoloration under eyes:


When suffering from allergies, it is very common to notice some changes in the skin coloration under your eyes. These may appear as dark circles under the eyes, known as “allergic shiners,” to scaly, red, thickened skin on the eyelids. The dark appearance arise from the immune system’s response to an irritant in the environment, leading to blood vessel dilation and increased blood flow under the skin.

Skin Aging

When aging, a person’s lid skin loses elasticity and droops, creating shadows and a darker appearance around the eyes. Fat within the lid, which gives the skin around the eye its supple, youthful shape, thinning takes place over time, giving the eyes a hollowed out look.

Thinning of the skin also makes the blood vessels beneath more visible, contributing to the discolored skin appearance. Sometimes, discoloration under the eyes is hereditary. If this is the case, other family members may share the same appearance.

Use of topical medication

The use of eye medications, like prostaglandin analogs, can cause darkening of the eyelid skin. Moreover, eye drops such as tafluprost and travoprost, are used for lowering eye pressure in people with glaucoma.

Bimatoprost, a topical solution used to elongate eyelashes, is made from the same active ingredient as the prostaglandin analogs and can also cause darkening of the eyelid skin. When an individual using these medication stops the using them, it normally comes with many effects including discoloration under the eyes.

Discolored skin around eyes

The skin around the eyes is normally very delicate. The exposure to the sun for longer periods would cause serious problems to the skin around the eyes. Moreover, the skin around the eyes is very sensitive more than any other part of the face. Therefore, the area is more vulnerable to harmful elements such as UV light.

Hormonal imbalance would also be another major possible cause of discolored skin around the eyes. This may cause certain skin pigmentation to appear in different parts of the face. In addition, lack of proper balanced diet may be a major cause of discolored skin around the eyes.

How to treat eye discoloration

Eye discoloration is very embarrassing. Having knowledge on how to treat the infection will greatly help get out of the undesirable symptoms. Below are some of the most common treatments that may be used in this case:
1. By cleansing the eyes
eye discoloration can be treated by gently cleaning the region around the eye by use of special cleansers or a simple warm water and baby shampoo solution with a cotton swab. However, make up and contact lenses should be highly avoided during eye cleansing process. This is to help the spreading of the infection.
Discolored eyes caused by blepharitis can be treated by daily cleanses to remove skin oils that allow bacteria to grow on the edges of your eyelids.
2. Use of herbal teas
if at all eye discoloration is caused by conjunctivitis infection, herbal teas can be used to eradicate the irritation on the skin area around the eye.  In order to use the herbal teas effectively, it should be applied directly on the affected area of the eyes accompanied by compresses.

Herbal teas have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that makes it effective in eye discoloration treatment. Some of the herbal teas that can be effectively used to curb these condition are: eyebright, calendula and chamomile, barberry, Oregon grape and golden seal.

3. Using bee propolis Clears Your Eyes

Bee propolis refers to the sticky substance that bees do gather up. This propolis is gathered from trees, saps and other plant sources. The substance is very effective in the treatment for red eyes caused by conjunctivitis infection.
8. Dietary with amino acids
Modified forms of the amino acid cysteine called “N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)” is believed to be very vital in the human body. The amino acids help the body create an antioxidant that loosens the secretions that block the eye and cause eye discoloration and redness in blepharitis.
9. Flaxseed oil remedy

Flaxseed oil is extracted from the seeds of the flax plant. It contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are needed for health. Flaxseed oil contains the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which the body converts into eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid, which is the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

Some researchers think flaxseed oil might have some of the same benefits as fish oil.
Flaxseed oil capsules are very vital in treatment of eye discoloration, they reduce the inflammation around the eyes and also reduce eye redness.
10. Antihistamines treat eye discoloration
in a scenario where the major cause of discolored eyes is an allergic reaction, it could be effective to relieve it by use of antihistamines. The fact is that, antihistamine eye drops available control the irritation and itching associated with allergies.

Sources and references

  1. COM: Causes of Eye Discoloring
  2. Healthline: What causes yellow eyes?
  3. MEDICALNEWSTODAY: Why Are My Eyes Yellow?
  4. Tandurust: Natural Remedy for Yellow Eye Discoloration | Preventing Yellow Eye

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