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What causes the whites of the eye to appear yellow?

The most common cause of a yellow cast to the whites of the eyes is thickening of the clear membrane (the bulbar conjunctiva) that covers the whites of the eyes. The name of such a thickening is pinguecula. Pingueculae form when the eye has been subjected to much ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, so ultraviolet-absorbing sunglasses are preventative. Less commonly, the entire white of the eye can become yellow in a person who has liver failure with an elevated level of a chemical called bilirubin in the blood.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.