May 9, 2024

Why Am I Crying Yellow Tears? The Science Behind Eye Discoloration

The Yellow Mystery: Decoding the Color of Your Tears and Eyes

Have you ever shed a tear and noticed it was an unusual yellow shade? Or perhaps you've caught your reflection in a mirror only to see a faint yellow glow in your eyes that you can't explain. Let's dive into this curious phenomenon and explore the various explanations behind yellow tears and yellow eyes.

Why Might My Tears Be Yellow?

A viral TikTok video ignited this question after a user posted a clip showcasing their oddly colored, yellow tears. This video inevitably led to widespread concern and intrigue, which sparked discussion online about the reasons behind this peculiar tear tint.

The Science Behind Tear Composition

Naturally, your tears are a blend of water, oils, and mucus. In circumstances where there is increased oil production from the tear duct glands, the tears may assume a yellowish, oily appearance. These instances can be influenced by several factors, including age, diet, and eye health.

Other Probable Causes

While the excess oil theory is a plausible explanation for yellow tears, it is not the sole reason. Other potential causes can include infections, allergies, or external irritants that might lead to the production of pus or yellow discoloration. These tear shades should not be overlooked - if persistent, they may indicate underlying problems necessitating medical attention.

Unusual Tear Colors

Interestingly, tears can manifest in various other colors too. Red or pink tears typically indicate bleeding, while black tears point to the presence of melanin. These colorations should always be brought to the attention of a healthcare provider.

Dissecting the Phenomenon of Yellow Eyes

Moving from yellow tears, let's now consider the possible reasons behind yellow eyes. This symptom can be primarily attributed to conditions like jaundice, eye infections, and icterus.

Yellow Eyes and Jaundice

Jaundice is characterized by the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes due to an accumulation of bilirubin—a yellow substance formed from the breakdown of red blood cells. When the liver does not efficiently filter this substance, it can elevate bilirubin levels in the blood, leading to jaundice. Jaundice itself can indicate underlying health conditions such as hepatitis, liver disease, or gallbladder issues.

Eye Infections and Yellow Discharge

Eyes may also display a yellow tinge due to infections. This can be accompanied by a yellow discharge consisting of dead white blood cells, bacteria, and viruses. If you notice symptoms such as redness, pain, swollen eyelids, increased tearing, light sensitivity, or a yellow discharge from the eyes, an eye infection may be the culprit.

Icterus: Yellow Eyes Due to Bilirubin Buildup

Icterus, a condition caused by an extreme bilirubin buildup, is another possible cause of yellow eyes. A number of conditions can yield this symptom, such as subconjunctival hemorrhage, hyperbilirubinemia, leptospirosis, alcohol use disorder, and pancreatitis.

Seeking Medical Attention

The emergence of yellow tears or yellow eyes should never be dismissed lightly. While it might just be a harmless oddity in some cases, these unusual features could also reveal an urgent, underlying health issue. Therefore, if you notice persistent yellowing in your tears or eyes, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly.

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