What are yellow eyes?Infogram on the anatomy and structure of the liver. Click to enlarge.
"Yellow eyes" is when the dermis (sclera) of the eye has a significant yellowish deviation from its normal white color. Often, the yellowish discoloration in the marginal areas of the eyeball, which are covered by the eyelids, more intense.
Yellow eyes are not an independent disease, but an indicator of underlying diseases. If yellowing is due to liver or bile disorders, it is usually accompanied by a general yellowish discoloration of the skin and often also by painful abdominal discomfort.
Jaundice can also occur as a result of blood disorders or incompatibility of blood transfusions. In addition, yellowing of the eyes may also be a symptom of the harmless, heritable metabolic disorder Morbus Meulengracht (also known as Gilbert syndrome). In all cases, yellow eyes are due to an excessive concentration of bile pigment bilirubin in the blood, which in turn may be due to a variety of causes.
Most often, yellow eyes appear as part of jaundice. The responsible for this bile dye is formed as a degradation product in the decomposition of the red blood pigment hemoglobin.
Normally, the initially water-insoluble "indirect bilirubin" in the liver is metabolized to a water-soluble degradation product ("direct bilirubin"), passes through the bile into the intestine and is excreted. Increased bilirubin levels are often caused by disturbances of this process of transformation or biliary drainage, eg. B. by gallstones.
The cause can also be outside the liver and gallbladder. This case is z. For example, when excessive red blood cells spontaneously disintegrate. Reasons for this are hereditary or acquired blood diseases, immune diseases, infections (eg malaria), intolerance of blood transfusions, etc. There is too much indirect bilirubin, with whose conversion the liver is overwhelmed.
On the other hand, if the problem is liver dysfunction, liver inflammation (hepatitis) may be present. Excessive consumption of liver-damaging substances (alcohol, poisons and certain medications) leads to a weakening of the organ. In rare cases, yellow eyes also appear temporarily after surgery, in pregnancy and in newborns.
Diseases with this symptom
- Gallbladder inflammation
- Gallbladder cancer and bile duct cancer
- Cholangitis (bile duct inflammation)
- liver failure
- Pancreatitis (pancreatitis)
- yellow fever
- Gilbert-Meulengracht disease
- Right heart insufficiency
Diagnosis & History
Yellow eyes are a conspicuous symptom that usually causes a person to see a doctor at an early stage. To detect the cause of yellowing, the blood of the patient is first examined. The blood values provide information about potentially impaired organ functions and abnormalities of the blood components.
In addition, there is an extensive medical history to record the medical history and additional existing complaints - such as pain and digestive problems - instead. Sensing the organs in the abdomen may alert to pressure sensitive areas around the liver and bile.
Ultrasound examinations as well as urine and stool samples, especially with regard to the color of the excretions, also point to possible causes of disturbed bilirubin degradation. In general, the prognosis for jaundice depends heavily on the cause and timing of the start of treatment, especially if the yellow eyes are the result of a progressive hepatic degenerative disease.
By naming the complication a disturbance picture should be discussed. The term "complication" declares a sequelae of a health disorder or the concomitant nature of a medical preparation used against this condition. Complications can thus be caused by a misdiagnosis as well as in the course of the medical procedure. Yellow eyes are a potential complication of liver or bile disease, which can be attributed to diseases of the digestive system. Also, yellow eyes can bring further complications.
Yellow eyes are caused by congestion of the bile or a wrong position of the bile duct, which are caused for example by gallstones. Complications usually occur in weakened patients. In order to avoid dangerous complications, a medical examination must take place after the first symptoms have started to appear. Occasionally, the sufferer should be treated in the clinic in the course of eliminating existing complications, such as yellow eyes. There, a concept for the following outpatient procedure against yellow eyes or the actual mental disorder can be determined.
Yellow eyes are a complication of liver and biliary disorders, not an independent disease. A healthy lifestyle, the avoidance of alcohol and sugar confectionery as well as the periodic precaution can avoid yellow eyes and liver bile diseases. Sometimes a low-fat diet is indicated. Many medicinal preparations are harmful to the bile and therefore not to be used in liver bile diseases.
When should you go to the doctor?
Yellow eyes are not an independent disease, but always a symptom. The yellowing of the white portion of the eyeballs often indicates disturbed functions of the liver or bile. Often they are associated with other features of jaundice, such as yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes, and of the stool. For this reason alone, yellow eyes are a reason to seek medical treatment immediately. It is by no means merely a cosmetic problem.
In addition to the common cause of yellowing of the eyes cause liver bile, there are other reasons for this: For example, yellow eyes may also be due to high blood lipid levels, which are also in need of treatment, as well as various infections or diseases of the blood. In addition, some medicines can cause yellow eyes.
An immediate visit to the doctor due to the "yellow eye" indicator can save valuable time and in extreme cases even save lives - at least it is easier to treat an illness that has been detected as early as possible and less pain for the patient Yellow eyes may be regarded as an early warning system, but conversely, eyes that are not yellow in color do not mean that everything is healthy and that can only be judged by the doctor.
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Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of yellow eyes depends on the diagnostically determined cause. The treatment options then depend on whether the cause is prehepatic (lat. Pre = before; hepa = liver), hepatic or posthepatic (lat. Post = after) nature. Treatment successes vary depending on the severity of the disease.
If hereditary Gilbert syndrome is present, treatment is usually neither possible nor necessary. The degradation of bilirubin is slightly disturbed here, but there is no serious disorder with disease value. Nevertheless, it is recommended for sufferers to limit alcohol and drug consumption.
For preverpatic causes, various negotiation options are available to normalize the hemoglobin content by administering or withdrawing certain blood components. Incompatibilities in the context of blood transfusions must be accepted in life-threatening cases, however.
In the case of acute or chronic hepatitis, antiviral drugs may be used in the case of infectious diseases to control the inflammation. In severe damage to the liver tissue, a liver transplant may be necessary.
In posthepatic causes, ie disorders of the bile drainage, gallstones or narrowing of the bile ducts are usually removed or treated by minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Outlook & Forecast
Yellow eyes are not an expression of a specific eye disease, but they usually signal a disease of the liver or bile. The prospect and prognosis of the yellow eyes therefore depends on the development and prognosis of the underlying primary disease. Conversely, this also means that healing of the primary disease automatically reduces the yellowing of the eyes because it is a reversible symptom.
If the yellowing of the eyes occurs in parallel with a yellowing of the skin, it is very likely that there is a cause of hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver or a displacement of the bile ducts. In all cases, there is an increased concentration of the bile pigment bilirubin, which is an intermediate product of the breakdown of the blood pigment hemoglobin. The prognosis and prognosis of jaundice are thus directly dependent on the course of the triggering underlying disease.
If the bile ducts are displaced by gallstones, bile may accumulate, including bilirubin, which may cause a jaundice-inducing increase in bilirubin levels in the blood. Prospect and prognosis are positive in this case as long as the congestion in the bile ducts can be eliminated and the increased concentration of bilirubin is reduced again.
If taking medication is the triggering factor for the yellowing of the eyes, it is enough for a positive prognosis to stop the medication.
The best way to prevent yellow eyes is through a liver and gall-sparing lifestyle. These include in particular a moderate consumption of alcohol and medicines.
The bile can be relieved by reduced-fat diet. If travel to exotic countries is required, adequate hepatitis A and B vaccine protection must be available and malaria prophylaxis should be considered.
Also, food hygiene should always be respected, since the ingestion of toxic decomposition products and certain mold fungi can damage the liver and thus be responsible for the appearance of yellow eyes.
You can do that yourself
If the inside of the eye is yellowish, this indicates a liver dysfunction. The yellowing is due to an increased bilirubin, since metabolites are no longer sufficiently degraded. There are many reasons for this, most of which are worthy of treatment. The most common cause is liver and bile disease, such as chronic or acute liver inflammation or gallstones.
Self-help brings little, because the cause must be treated. If the yellowing is accompanied by pain in the abdominal area, the doctor's visit is urgently advisable. An acute jaundice must be treated with medication. The yellowing of the eyeball caused by excessive alcohol consumption, the patient must live immediately abstinent. If an addictive disease is behind it, it should be treated in a suitable facility. Sometimes the yellowing of the eyes is due to a very high-fat diet. Again, the waste products of the metabolism deposit in the mucous membranes. A diet change to low-fat, vitamin-rich diet is advisable. In the first few days, light food should determine the nutrition plan.
If the discoloration of the eyeball caused by minor damage to the blood vessels, there is no cause for concern. However, if vision is limited and pain in the eyes, the ophthalmologist must be consulted. In all other cases, cooling and protection of the eyes helps. If the blood can flow away unhindered, the yellowing also goes back.