The body is constantly replacing old red blood cells with new ones, and sometimes during this process, Bilirubin, a yellow coloured pigment, is left behind, which eventually reaches various parts of the body. Jaundice sometimes creates a problem in this process, turning the eyes yellowish in the process.

Yellow eyes in newborns

The skin and eyes turning yellow in newborns is as a result of physiological jaundice. This is not a serious condition and generally disappears within 15 days after birth. The baby’s mother’s liver processes its bilirubin before birth, and after birth, the baby’s liver starts functioning and processing the pigment. However, a sufficient amount may not be produced in the first few days, due to which there may be temporary yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Less common but more serious reasons behind jaundice in newborns include blood disorders or abnormalities, liver diseases, bacterial or fungal infections and genetic disorders. Yet, as a precautionary method, make sure that the doctor in charge of your baby is notified so that he or she can monitor and evaluate his bilirubin

Yellow eyes in children

In children, this yellowing of eyes and skin occurs when the bilirubin builds up because of certain serious diseases or medical conditions. These can damage the function of the liver or even block the bile ducts.


Depending on the underlying medical cause, infection or disease of the yellow eyes, its symptoms can be varied. It has been observed that children with yellow eyes also portray symptoms of another underlying disease.

Here are some symptoms linked with the appearance of yellow eyes in your child –

  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Urine which is dark in colour
  • Flu-like symptoms (eg fever, fatigue, cough, body aches and headaches)
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Feeling unwell
  • Lack or loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Constant weakness

If the infection is in the liver, then the symptoms include:

  • Constriction or narrowing of the Bile duct
  • Liver and pancreatic cancer
  • Scarring of live because of liver diseases)
  • Slowing down of bile production because of certain medications
  • Inflammation of the liver

Other causes due to which your child may have yellow eyes include:

  • Malaria, which causes destruction of the red blood cells
  • Hemolytic anemia, where the body itself destroys red blood cells
  • Sickle-cell anemia, where the red blood cells have an abnormal shape
  • P pinguecula or pterygium (both have a common symptom – yellow growths on the cornea of the eye because of sun exposure). Both these conditions are rarely serious and have no relation to jaundice or any of its underlying causes.
  • Sometimes, children having eye injuries diagnosed are asked to apply an orange coloured eye in the eyes. It temporarily makes the yes yellowish-orange, and with the passage of time, the normal colour of the eyes returns.

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