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Yellow Eyes and Sickle Cell

Go the mirror. Look at your eyes. Your sclera (the white part around your pupil) might be white, or it might be varied shades of yellow. This is as a result of Jaundice, and many sickle cell patients have yellow eyes.

Jaundice, also referred to as icterus, is the yellow staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) by abnormally high blood levels of the bile pigment, bilirubin. The yellowing extends to other tissues and body fluids and also may turn the urine dark.

So what happens in sickle cell patients that gives us yellow eyes so much of the time?

It all starts and ends with the red blood cells. When red cells die, they are broken down and destroyed by the body, broken down into base parts and sent for either excretion or recycling. This is a normal process that leaks hemoglobin into the blood. The hemoglobin is converted to bilirubin so that it can be excreted by the body. However, bilirubin is not water soluble and  must be mixed with other substances to make it disposable. The liver modifies bilirubin into bile, and then the bile goes to the intestines, is converted by bacteria to urobilirubin and is then excreted in stool (this is what makes poop brown) or in urine.

The average healthy red cell lives about 90-120 days. The average sickle cell lives about 10-12 days. So with sickle cell patients, the volume of cells being destroyed, repackaged and dumped is exponentially greater than those who do not have sickle cells. As a result, the system becomes overloaded and sometimes, the bilirubin just keeps floating around and around in the blood until your liver is able to convert and excrete it. In light skinned people, there might be a yellow tinge to their skin. For those of a darker persuasion, the yellowing is only noted in the sclerae of the eyes and sometimes in the fingernail beds.

Even those who get regular blood transfusions are prone to jaundice. This is because with blood transfusions, hemolysis (cell death), occurs with the red blood cells that are transfused into you. Anytime red blood cells are manipulated, some of them die. There is much manipulation from getting the blood from the donor, processing it, sterilizing it, storage, transferring and even infusing it into you.  So even if you get transfused with a fresh bag of blood, there are still dead cells floating in there that your body has to convert and excrete. If you get several units, this could lead to a backup of your system.

If your liver is unable to deal with the overload, or you have a damaged liver from medications, vaso-occlusive crises, hepatitis or other conditions, the jaundice might overwhelm your system and lead to other complications like sepsis (infection), cholangitis, biliary cirrhosis, pancreatitis, coagulopathy, renal and liver failure.

One day, I was walking across my college campus and a lovely woman stopped me. “Excuse me, can I ask you a personal question?” When I said yes, she asked me if I had sickle cell disease. I was shocked and surprised, and immediately asked her, “How did you know?” To which, she told me that it was by my yellow eyes. Yellow eyes, which I had always thought were an anomaly served as an external identifier of having sickle cell disease.

Since then, I look at my eyes every morning. The shades of yellow tell me about what’s going on in my body. I always have some shade of yellow, but the more yellow my eyes, are, the more prone I am to having a full blown crises. Also, when I just get transfused, my eyes are yellow for several weeks until my body processes the blood.

So how do you get rid of yellow eyes and jaundice?

The first line of defense is to drink a lot of water. Hydrating your system will help dilute the bilirubin and get rid of other waste products in your system via the kidneys, leaving the liver with less work to do.

The second important thing is to ensure you have a healthy liver. The liver is one of the most important organs in the body, and with sickle cell patients, we must love and care for our livers. All foods, medications and drugs that you take are broken down by the liver, so before you pop the pill or eat that French fry; think of the work your liver must do to excrete it.

  • Vitamins A and D are excreted by the liver, so take only the recommended daily requirement and no more.
  • Ensure that you take only medications that are not harmful to the liver. Tylenol is broken down by the liver, so use with discretion.
  • At your next doctor appointment, ask for her to draw your AST/ALT (liver enzyme) levels so you know how damaged or awesome your liver is.
  • Stay away from alcohol because this is extremely harmful to your liver (isn’t good for sickle cell anyway).
  • Have a low fat diet. Fatty deposits can attach to your liver, making it inefficient, unable to do its work, and…well fat;) So stick to a healthy diet.
  • Watch your protein intake. The liver is in charge of processing protein, and a diet high in protein can overload the liver. Dairy and vegetarian proteins are easier to process than meat proteins, so choose wisely.
  • Stay away from over-processed foods. The chemicals in processed, canned, pickled, packaged foods have to be broken down by the liver, so try to stick to fresh, whole, organic and natural foods as much as possible.
  • Beware of your herbal remedies. Plants of Senecio, Crotalaria, and Heliotopium families are hepato-toxic (harmful to the liver). Plus chaparral, germander, comfrey, mistletoe, skullcap, margosa oil, mate tea, Gordolobo yerba tea, pennyroyral and Jin Blu Huan.

Foods Recommended to Reduce Jaundice:

For Your Juicing try: Beets, gooseberry, ripe banana, sugar cane juice with half a lemon, lime juice, ginger juice, tomato juice, or barley water

For Your Teas, boil and steep: Bitter leaves like karela, luffa, lemon leaves, radish leaves, or 2 teaspoons of oregano for 10 minutes

For Your Snacks try: Almonds, dates, cardamoms, prunes

Reference:
Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

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About Author

Sickle Cell Warrior

Sickle Cell Warrior

Tosin is dedicated to perpetuating healthy and positive messages about sickle cell. Although sickle cell is a subject often taboo in the communities this condition is most prevalent, Tosin's message is that sickle cell is not something to be ashamed of and you can live a rich and fulfilling life with sickle cell. Sickle cell warriors are the most amazing people in the world, with a great fortitude for compassion, willpower and strength.

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148 Comments

  1. Tosin Coker
    Tosin Coker November 29, 12:48

    Excellent article, very informative. Thank you!

  2. -ayo
    -ayo November 29, 14:43

    I have a confession, I hate that my eyes are yellow and try to disguise it by wearing shades… I hate when ppl ask me why my eyes are yellow, I know it’s petty but I do hope to get over it and be confident with accepting all of me (including the jaundice eyes). Thanks for posting this article tho, very informative and it’s just one more step to take better care of myself and eat right! U Rock 🙂

  3. Nutty
    Nutty December 01, 03:46

    I’ve noticed that taking fansider clears the eye the next day…its not scientifically proven but its what I use

    @ Ayo: Its not petty…people can be annoying sometimes and if you dont want to answer unneccessary questions then use ur dark glasses. Its not petty

  4. Nutty
    Nutty December 01, 03:47

    PS: Fansider is an anti-malaria drug

  5. Supporter
    Supporter December 01, 17:49

    I’m impressed. A very well researched, factual, and informative article. Keep up the good work!

  6. Bimpe96
    Bimpe96 December 07, 17:27

    @ayo its okay cause i feel the same way because almost everywhere i go everyone asks me about my eyes and until June when i found out i had SC i just said i didn’t know

  7. kemi
    kemi January 27, 10:06

    I know when my eyes are really yellow when they start to burn.

  8. Jack Achi
    Jack Achi May 31, 05:34

    @nutty, thats very true. i want to know why antimalarias clear the eyes for a day or two, i have noticed it too

  9. Jess
    Jess June 21, 18:03

    I am so self conscious about my yellow eyes that i just wanna stay indoors and cry. I’ve always had clear eyes, until about a year ago and now my eyes have been consistently yellow :-(. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

  10. Nikky
    Nikky October 13, 04:08

    It is very disheartening and sorrowful for me when people keep asking me y my eyes are yellow. i just feel inferior. As for me i dnt come down with the sickle cell crisis,i havent been to the hospital in more than 5yrs,but this yellow eyes is my concern and some times i ask God WHY? but He knows best and i know sickled or not He loves me and i am thankful for the love of my family and friends who knows about my health condition.I have great faith that sooner than later,the permanent cure would be found in no time. Meanwhile let’s keep praying because prayer is the key! God bless you all

  11. Shon
    Shon December 14, 21:48

    Hello,good article. I just wanted to say that due to frequent transfusions throughout the years like I’ve had, you can’t help the process your liver goes through. I’ve received transfusions since the age of two because at that time I was diagnosed it was still considered and orphan disease, and the only confirmative test was the sickledex. Transfusional iron overload is a result of excess transfusions throughout the years, and of course that affects your liver tremendously, because your body has no mechanism for removing iron, and so it has to be chelated by oral or iv medication.

    Now, my eyes have their degrees of yellow, and I’ve been teased, I’ve been asked, and I don’t like it because I’m proud, plain and simple. For the ones of you who posted about being more recently diagnosed, and not had a crisis in five years, do you all realize how truly blessed you are?

    God Bless You all!

  12. Ayobola
    Ayobola March 31, 16:12

    Hi everyone, it feels really good to know I’m not the only one that feels this way, I am quite lucky in the sense that I rarely have crises but my problem has always been really deep jaundince, ever since I was a kid people would ask me what was wrong with my eyes, why were my eyes yellow e.t.c and I would feel terrible and cry a lot. It made me shy, insecure and self concious, I loved making friends but avoided it because at the back of my mind I knew those painful questions would follow, but I thank God I have a wonderful family and few friends that care about me,and despite the jaundice/SS, I’m a banker and a have a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter. I want to let u all know that there is hope, when I look in the mirror my eyes are white, not yellow anymore, thanks to an amazing new drug produced in nigeria called solamin. Basically what it does is reverses and inhibits the sickling of the red blood cells, I have been using it for about a month now and re- took my genotype test today and it came out AA, it sounds too good to be true but it is, There is hope everyone 🙂 from my blackberry

  13. Lisa
    Lisa June 04, 05:32

    I have a 11 yr old daughter that is dealing with the same issue and I just had to do some research on this. Its like everyday someone at school is asking her aboout her eyes and just yesterday my 15 yr old son asked me the same question and I really couldn’t answer it. Thanks for this article and the other comments that were listed above.This illness is fairly new in this area and most of the things that I know I have had to research and learn for myself so thanks.

  14. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author June 12, 00:56

    @Lisa, we are all here for each other. Please don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any other questions.

  15. scleraictus69
    scleraictus69 June 16, 11:23

    Hi Ayobola.

    Where can one buy Solamin?

  16. Ayesha
    Ayesha June 27, 21:11

    Hi ayobola I also saw solamin here but I’ve already started my son on it you will get it from Selma herbal institute in Abuja just check the Internet you will find their contact address, goodluck

  17. Ayesha
    Ayesha June 27, 22:29

    Sorry esoma herbal institute not selma

  18. Mary
    Mary June 28, 05:35

    @Ayobola can you please tell us more about this Solamin?? and where can it be purchased? and scientific results to back it up?

  19. Muktar
    Muktar July 03, 02:29

    I am rili happy with thise article.The yellowish of my eye is what pains me in my heart.But some should put more light on this solamin.

  20. Abdulrahman
    Abdulrahman July 28, 09:40

    Where can i get to to buy this Solamin Herbal Sickle Cell drug or How do i get to Contact them. I need their info. I’m in Minna Niger State. Here is my number 08057985521.

  21. Nelly
    Nelly August 06, 15:58

    Can i get solamin to buy in ghana

  22. Ayesha
    Ayesha August 24, 14:34

    Hi everyone,I don’t know the science behind solamin, but what I know is that 2months ago I got to know about it from ayobola and I decided to give it a try well it works! My son has gained a lot of weight he has energy and his deep jaundice is slowly fading but most of all we took his his genotype test today and it was AA! Please Ayobola kindly let us know how you are doing and thank you for letting us know about solamin! God bless you all!

  23. franny
    franny August 25, 16:11

    Ive been looking all over for a place to purchase Solamin, I’m in New York City, can anyone help me? Im desperate

  24. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author August 25, 20:07

    @Franny, I’m not sure where in NY one gets Solamen but I will post it up and if anyone knows where to buy it maybe they will contact you. Also you should know that it’s found mostly in Nigeria, so if you have any contacts in Nigeria you might be able to get it.

  25. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author August 25, 20:09

    @Ayesha, that is so great! I’m so happy for you and your son that he is doing much better, hopefully this will help him for a long time with sickle cell and jaundice. SCW

  26. Ayesha
    Ayesha August 29, 21:46

    @franny call this number +2347033773350.

  27. Ayesha
    Ayesha August 30, 01:47

    Note that with solamin you have to do a great deal of lifestyle changes,no processed sugar, no junk ,no packaged fruit juice, only natural foods . You will also use honey for sugar , no pasta, indomie etc, you have to get it right! And it worth the effort if a five year old can do it so can you!

  28. kemi
    kemi August 30, 11:28

    I am taking it now, I have been eating pasta, and foolishly ate m&ms today do I start over the medication? What meals did you prepare for your son, everything in america is processed now lol. Thank you for continuing to inform us.

  29. Ayesha
    Ayesha August 30, 21:30

    @kemi’ I gave my son lots of rice and vegetable, our local fufu with variety of soup, u can eat bread dat contains salt or make pancakes with honey, beans, when he has to go to school I made fresh orange juice for him i still do, we went off biscuits and chocolate, cakes etc and I’m a cake and desert maker so you can imagine. Snack on fish , chicken, and fruits , nuts. My son’s condition was even more difficult coz he has severe allergy/ asthma but the result is worth the effort, and coz I’m here in Nigeria I get directly from prof. Solomon with a combination of another drug called esomaron, please call the number I posted earlier so that you can get all the information you need , I really want you to get it right. + 2348037022773,here’s my number.

  30. Ayesha
    Ayesha August 30, 21:55

    And I don’t think you have to start over the medication but stop eating those things that may void the medication and I lest I forget I was also told to keep to the time of administering it for instance I gave my son solamin 7am and esomaron 7:30am and since it’s 12 hourly I repeat the dose 7 and 7:30 pm in da evening so whatever time you are taking it stick with it of course they were times I was a bit late but not later than 10 to 30 mins it will help if you put a reminder on ur phone, it cost 2000 naira per bottle and they ship from Nigeria to anywhere, you can also call Agnes a nurse in the institute for info and shipment +2348060154902 good luck and I hope to hear from you!

  31. kemi
    kemi August 31, 14:35

    Thank you very much!

  32. uche
    uche September 10, 16:03

    i hav gotten solamin but the questin @aysha is dis y is it not nafdac evaluated.nd wen one’s genotype change dos it change for ever.dos he continue to drink solamin atfer genotype change. Pks tro mor light on it

  33. Shakirah Lane
    Shakirah Lane September 17, 16:33

    My eyes are super yellow and I went to the er for pain. My doctor had been notified,my spouse was at my side but unfortunately some prick beat my doc to the punch-taking my blood. My boo tried fussing ,yelling at the nurse for hurting me and causing more pain. I asked for peace bcuz they were just tryna do their jobs. Apparently not my doc comes in fussing at the other docs as well. He call the hospital n what he ordered wasn’t done to his standards. I knew my blood levels and they were given asap but the doctor didn’t care. Well my primary gave him a piece of his mind. Any who my blood levels had actually gone up but for some odd reason I still felt horrible . Very weak and pale, unable to eat and I couldn’t even find pleasure in being pleasured 😉 . Not being nasty it’s just that I never had that problem and the doc says I should be very very active in that area. Yes, at times it’s a bit of a pain in the you know what but never do I not at least want it. So, I was tested over and over and told to get rest and plenty of fluids. By the time I got home I was hurting even more and realized that I hadn’t received a visit from my monthly friend 😉 . I dread her visits! Always! She seems to make everything worst. All aches and pains. Whoever now I’m missing her and I think this is the reasoning behind the extra pain,discoloration of my eyes, weakness and such, oh, and my blood levels being high. Am I right or do I need to call my doctor to have a checkup or birth control to make it come?
    My mom says that this has happened before….I was young and do not remember.
    Why are my eyes so yellow if I am fine?
    Why is there unusual pain?
    Is it natural for my blood levels to be a point higher than normal (for me)¿

  34. uche
    uche October 11, 07:22

    solamin is gr8 jst started using it 3weeks ago nd d miracles are inexplicable.my eyes white,never dizzy nd reduces my tommy

  35. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author October 19, 22:22

    @feeyah, My eyes are yellow all the time, even when I’m fine. When I’m sick it becomes a darker tint of yellow. Regarding your menses , if you have not gotten your period yet, you should definitely take a pregnancy test. Then ask your ob/gyn doctor what else might be going on. It might not even be related to SickleCell, there might be something else going on in your system that you need to get checked out. Hope you figure it out.

  36. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author October 19, 22:23

    Uche, Solamin is not going to change your blood or phenotype. That is biologically impossible.

  37. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author October 19, 22:27

    Ayesha, This is something that we should be doing anyway.

  38. Deco_SLiM
    Deco_SLiM November 02, 15:58

    Are u serious…

    There is a drug that can clear the eyes

    Coz am special too

  39. waldik
    waldik November 29, 16:18

    what a good article i have been searching through the year that i was born till then i had never reed same good words of comforting and to knwon that iam not alone in this battle for i fell proud that technology has boosted up a can still give people knowlege to write ……….Iam waldik, from Angola and iam 22yrs old i was born with sickle cell anemia till then whenever a go to the hospital the doc would recommend me folic acid which i take oneºs a day and since then i have never taken any other pills so i readin some of the articles and people came suggestin this Nigerian medicine solamin i would like to know how can i buy ………….my phone number is +244934038648………

  40. Ruth
    Ruth December 05, 09:19

    Pls where can i buy solamin in port harcourt

  41. anonymousE
    anonymousE December 05, 14:44

    Growing up I was always teased about my yellow eyes. Those sly offhand comments “you’re eyes are fluorescing”, the names like “yellow eyes”, “torchhead” etc, they got to me and made me very self-consious. As I got older and the kids around me became more “considerate young adults”, the yellow eyes just became a que for caring questions.. “are you ok? your eyes are yellow.”, “you need to drink more water girl, you’re not looking good”. While I’m grateful that most people are kind about it, I resent the fact that my eyes serve as a beacon for the world to see the state of my health. I consider that a very private matter.

    Thankfully, since going on Hydroxyurea my eyes have really cleared up, mainly because my health has generally improved greatly. So when I see those yellow tinges coming up in the morning, i’m drinking water like a camel all day long.

    I generally keep the fact that I have sickle cell to myself and a very close knit small group of friends. So the other day, when the yellowness just wouldn’t budge and a friend turned round and asked “Why are your eyes yellow? Have you got some sort of liver disease?!”, I flat out denied it, jokingly told him to get his eyes check and promptly left the room, heading to the cafe for a tall glass of mint tea. But I sort of wish I had said “Yes actually, I have sickle cell aneamia -insert short educational speech- and I’m a warrior.

  42. Tired01
    Tired01 December 13, 21:23

    Hello,
    I live in the US and I would like to know if there is anywhere where I van purchase solamin. My eyes are very yellow and always have been. Because of it I am very shy and I don’t like meeting new ppl. When I do speak to anyone I don’t look them I’m the eye for more than a second or 2. Sometimes I fiddle with something or act busy so I don’t actually have to face them when they’re speaking to me. I have always been very embarrassed because no matter where I go I’m always dreading that inevitable question. ‘Why are your eyes yellow’? ‘Or are you ok? Your eyes are very yellow’. I feel like ppl are always judging me before they even get to know me because of my eyes. It’s even to the point where I feel I am losing career opportunities because of this. I am a nurse, I can almost see the look of disapproval whenever I go for an interview. Because on top of my bright yellow eyes I look like I’m 80lbs as I’ve been told way to many times to count. Alot of times i come home at might and cry for hrs. This affects my relationships with friends, my dating life, my professional life and I’m sick and tired of it. Sometimes I think I’ll rather be dead than look the way I do. I know it might be petty to some ppl but it’s something that I would never get used to. I’m desperate. I’ll try anything. Thank you for reading. I just needed to vent. I never told anyone I have SC. And I’ve NEVER spoken about how it makes me feel. It took me 12 years of knowing my best friend to confess to her but after that I never spoke about it.

  43. Ruthie
    Ruthie December 21, 15:35

    Am genotype ss, 32yrs old, i thought i was the only ss with chronic yellow eyes, i get so frustrated when i look inside my mirror to see my eyes jaundiced even when am fine, thanks be to God i dont often have crisis bt my problem has always been this yellow eyes, its just a relief to see u guys sharing ideas on this vital issue. People say sickle cell patients just live up to an average of 50yrs, but that’s not true cos i have seen sicklers at the sickle cell clinics who r over 60yrs and still healthy. I believe with lifestyle modification, prayer, and having a close relationship with God, there is hope for SC patients to live longer. I hv always prayed to get a drug that will clear this jaundice, thanks for letting me know abt solamin, this is too good to be true, i just hope it has no side effects?

  44. kerron smith
    kerron smith December 31, 16:36

    Hi My name is kerron smith im in high school and not alot but sometimes people ask me why do i have yellow eyes. This really hurts me and makes me angry at everyone. In my head asking god why ??? why did this happen to me.Im generally healthy ive only been in the hospital 8 times my whole life. I drink plenty of water but apperarently there is a thing called solamin. Please can someone help me I live in maryland i want to know is there any way to get some of this. Please help me 2026608754

  45. Vivian
    Vivian January 01, 22:45

    Hi everyone . I have a quick question for anyone taking solamin. I bought it for my son who is a baby and everytime I try giving it to him, he breaks down and cries. Is it very bitter and can you mix it with anything to musk the taste.

  46. Daby
    Daby January 09, 05:55

    Plz where can i get solamin in jos n and what re d side effects,plz is there anybody that have being taking it 4 a yr nw

  47. DDA
    DDA January 11, 01:53

    @Vivian, I’m in my 5th day now, its seriously bitter, what i do is squeeze down orange in my mouth after wards, but for a baby i don’t know if he can take oranges, you can give him NATURAL (must be natural) honey after taking the drug, again, if its okay for the baby. And if he still breast feeds, try feeding him after and if he breast feeds you obviously changed your diet too right?

  48. bria bria
    bria bria January 13, 15:17

    hi my name is ambria but people’s call me bria i have had sickle cell cent’s i was 2 years old i have been in and out of doc office’s , e;r , ect i just would like to say i eat all differences type of bake foods,junk food ,juice sode ,everything my eyes r always yellow but i never cried r just flat bad about my eyes i just pray take things day by day and slow i just keep thinking that I’m live till I’m 100 I’m not going to lat sickle cell take over i just take it as god gave me sickle cell for a reason that’s make’s me different and by being different i’m special .i take my meds , take care of myself i don’t smoke r drink but i do smoke weed that helps me eat more and helps wit my pain some time’s just pray ,, bria bria 2013 i know I’m a warrior

  49. kaz
    kaz February 03, 14:16

    im in johanesburg south africa pliz what can i do to buy this solamin my boy is 1yr and seven month he has sickle cell and 10 times i ws admited whith him in the hospital and 7 times he had blood tranfusion i reali need help.here is my contact+27786454302

  50. Vivian
    Vivian February 21, 15:11

    Hi DDA, thank you for response. How is the drug working for you so far?

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