Unexplained eye discoloration can be quite alarming. This condition is an issue that most people do not know how to handle on their own. It can be embarrassing and difficult to treat.
It is usually a sign of an underlying health issue, and people should know the three causes of eye discoloration so they know what they must do to treat the condition.
Often eye discoloration is incorrectly diagnosed as a severe and potentially life-threatening condition. The consequences of a misdiagnosis can be devastating. A person should get a proper diagnosis from a board-certified ophthalmologist.
This article explains the causes of eye discoloration and the different types of discoloration that may present. Also, it helps people understand what is happening with their eyes and how to treat eye discoloration.
Abnormal Versus Normal Sclera Color
The sclera covers 80% of the eye surface and protects the internal structure of the eyeball. A healthy sclera is white. Sometimes, tiny arteries are visible in this part of the eye.
People deal with different types of eye conditions where the whites of the eyes are affected. It can be difficult for them to know what is going on with their eye condition.
Some treatments offer a solution to help people get clear, bright, healthy-looking eyes. Other times, these conditions are permanent, and treatment is not possible.
What Causes Eye Discoloration?
Many factors cause eye discoloration. Discoloration of the sclera is a telltale sign that something is wrong, but it can be challenging to determine the issues causing the discoloration. It is not a condition to self-diagnose. Only an eye doctor can quickly and accurately identify causes of eye discoloration in adults and children.
Here are the five primary causes of eye discoloration:
Genetics are a significant factor in eye discoloration. Yet, this cause is difficult to understand and interpret, which can lead to misdiagnosis. Often people will avoid treating the cause of eye discoloration because they do not know what hereditary ailments they may have.
Changes in eye color could be a symptom of eye disease. Some of the most common diseases that can lead to a change in eye color are pigmentary glaucoma, Horner’s Syndrome, and Fuch’s heterochromic iridocyclitis.
These conditions occur most often in the elderly. People born with Marfan’s Syndrome or Osteogenesis Imperfecta suffer from this issue as well. Iron deficiency can also cause the sclera to thin and discolor. An ophthalmologist can refer his patient to a specialist if necessary.
Certain medications cause a blue-grey tint in the sclera when used long-term. Minocycline, an antibiotic used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and rosacea, has this effect.
When the sclera is thinner than usual, the choroid can come through, changing the pigmentation of the whites of the eyes. This condition will cause the sclera to have a bluish tint.
Eye discoloration may sometimes occur because of injury to the eye. Eye injury is not always immediately apparent, and the symptoms of eye injury may not be present for some days after the accident. If a person experiences eye discoloration due to injury, it is essential to seek medical attention.
Diet is another cause for the whites of a person’s eyes to change color. Diets high in protein or sodium cause this condition. Consuming foods and drinks in excess that are high in these nutrients may also damage other organs in a person’s body.
Also, people who drink large quantities of alcohol can develop liver cirrhosis or infection. When a person’s diet impacts the liver, the evidence occurs in the discoloration of the whites of the eyes.
Different Types of Eye Discoloration in the White Part of the Eye
Eye discoloration left untreated can lead to blindness. More than 1 million people are blind, and many have lost their vision due to ailments. Early detection of this discoloration, along with immediate treatment, can keep sufferers from being part of this statistic.
Yellow Brownish Eyes
Many African Americans’ sclera have brown specks or blemishes due to increased levels of melanin. This condition is painless and does not cause harm to a person’s vision. This brown spot is a freckle on the eyeball.
However, there are times when these spots are serious. There are precancerous conditions called primary acquired melanosis (PAM) that begin with a painless brown spot on the eye.
It occurs most often in middle age and is usually limited to one eye. PAM can be life-threatening. If a person is concerned they may have this condition, they must see an eye doctor as soon as possible.
Red and Yellow Eyes
Rosacea is a persistent skin disorder of the face. Enlarged facial blood vessels cause this condition, which results in a flushed appearance of the nose and cheeks.
Often, the disease spreads to the eyes. Known as ocular rosacea, this causes burning, red, and itchy eyes. If left untreated, it may affect a person’s sight.
Factors affecting this disease include:
- Gland blockage
- Environment factors
- Bacterial infection
Jaundice causes yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Common causes of jaundice are liver disease or liver failure.
Jaundice can clear up on its own. However, sometimes this yellowing becomes permanent. Aging will also cause the yellowing of eye whites. Babies are sometimes born with this condition as well.
How to Treat Eye Discoloration
There are many possible causes behind eye discoloration. Another potential issue may be associated with cataracts in the eye’s pupil just in front of the lens. According to the National Eye Institute, 50 million people will suffer from cataracts in the United States by 2050.
Discoloration from cataracts does not impact the whites of the eyes, as the imperfection forms on the lens, or colored part of the eye. However, it is a noticeable discoloration that leads to vision loss. There are corrective surgeries to repair this condition, and a person should talk to their doctor if they suffer from this condition.
As for treatment for discoloration of the whites of the eyes, it is best to visit an ophthalmologist who can set up a treatment plan for these eye conditions. Patients with eye discoloration should see an eye doctor as soon as they notice this condition – as there are anatomical and physiological variables too numerous for people to self-diagnose.