Wondering Why?

Why Do Africans Have Yellow Eyes?

Why Do Africans Have Yellow Eyes?

This is a question that usually confuses healthcare practitioners especially nurses who conduct physical assessments. When a patient walks inside the Emergency Room and presents yellow eyes and nail beds, it may be automatically associated with liver or blood problems. This is not always the case for heavily pigmented individuals.

The sclera is a white outer of the eye. It is a strong, fibrous tissue that expands from the cornea (the clear front part of the eye) to the optic nerve located behind the eye. The sclera is responsible for the eye its white color.

The color of the sclera of Africans may range from yellow to muddy brown. This is normal and a benign condition commonly seen in this race and is often mistaken to as jaundice. In assessing jaundice in clients, it is best started in the sclera. The sclera is the part of the eye which is supposed to be normally white. In examining culturally-diverse individuals, however, one should be extra careful because there are special considerations that should be noted.

Many fair to dark-skinned races, such as Filipinos and African-Americans and others, have profound deposits of subconjunctival fat. This contains high levels of carotene in adequate quantities to mimic jaundice. The fatty deposits grow to be denser as the distance from the cornea increases.

There is a long list of conditions wherein jaundiced sclera can be found. Liver disorders could be one of the causes. These include hepatitis, drug-induced cholestasischolestasis, cirrhosis, congenital disorders of bilirubin metabolism, Dubin-Johnson syndrome, Gilbert disease. Another is gallbladder and bile duct disorders: Biliary atresia, blockage of the bile ducts, gallbladder and bile duct cancers and primary biliary cirrhosis.

It is a reason why the tasks of the nurses are very crucial because they have to determine whether the signs are normal for the patient or if it indicates life-threatening diseases. They should know whether it needs to be reported to the doctor or not.

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1 User Submission

  1. Thank you! I’ve been wondering why myself and this expertly answers my question.

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