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"What causes yellow pigmentation in the white's of one's eye"


The whites of my girlfriend's eyes are yellow - is this a problem? I keep reading online about jaundice, but I really don't think it's that, because she has been like this for as long as I've known her. Could it be another kind of problem, or is it just how some people's eyes are?


Eye color can sometimes tell a lot about what's going on inside the body. Yellow eyes in particular have a lot of different causes. The best initial physician to see for this type of issue is a primary care doctor such as an internal medicine physician or family doctor.

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Yellow eyes typically mean, like you said, jaundice. It is caused by elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. Even if she has been like that her whole life, it could still be jaundice. Jaundice has way too many causes for me to go through here, but I will give you a few thoughts. First, if she has been jaundiced her whole life, but without any other health problems, she may have something called Gilbert's syndrome. This syndrome is very common (between 5-10% of all people), carries no health risks, but does result in a slightly higher bilirubin level. Other red blood cell diseases and liver diseases can also result in jaundice, and would need to be investigated. I suggest that your girlfriend schedule an appointment with her primary care physician. He or she can take a detailed history of her symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. Perhaps her doctor will order a blood test to look at her bilirubin level, blood counts, and liver function tests. These will help tell if she has something that needs treated.

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