July 16, 2023

Why Do Africans Have Yellow Eyes?

The white part of the eye, known as the sclera, can sometimes take on a yellow or brown color, particularly in people with dark skin and eyes. This is most commonly seen in people of African descent, though it can also occur in those with darker hair and other melanin-rich skin colors such as Asians and Caucasians. The exact cause of this is not well understood, but it may be related to the way melanin pigment forms in the sclera or other layers of the skin.

The most common reason for a person’s eyes to be yellow is a condition called jaundice, which is when the body has too much of a compound called bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is created as the body breaks down older red blood cells to make new ones. Normally, the liver processes this pigment and flushes it out of the body through the bile ducts, where it mixes with stool and is excreted. However, if the liver isn’t working properly or the person has other medical conditions that affect how the body produces or destroys red blood cells, bilirubin builds up and causes the skin and eyes to look yellow.

A doctor can tell if a person has too much bilirubin in the body by running a series of tests, including one that measures bilirubin levels and other liver function tests. These results, along with a review of symptoms and the person’s medical history, help to diagnose the problem and determine the best treatment.


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