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Can't Find an Article?- Index of Conditions

Last updated October 27, 2017 (originally published February 22, 2011)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

The whites of your eyes -- that sea of white surrounding your
beautiful hazel, baby blue or big brown eyes-- can give you
pretty good clues about your health. The whites of your eyes,
technically called the "sclera", start off in life as pure white.
Over time, age and various conditions assault the whites of our
eyes, leaving them red, yellow, gray, cloudy or even brown.
Are there any natural remedies to restore the whites of your
eyes? Can changing your diet turn the whites of your eyes
white again? When is eye discoloration a serious medical

Many conditions can cause red, yellow and gray eyes. Some are
serious and others are easily treatable.

The most common unusual eye color is red. Red eyes occur
when the blood vessels near the surface of the eye become
dilated and enlarged. One of the most likely reasons for your
red eyes is conjunctivitis. Another common cause is eye strain
caused when your eyes try too hard to focus or when they are
overused from hours of driving, reading or simply using the
Even high blood pressure can turn your eyes red.

According to The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,
conjunctivitis is responsible for 30 percent of all our eye
complaints in America – and around 15 percent of us will suffer
an attack of red eye conjunctivitis at some point in our lives.
But conjunctivitis is not the end of the story – read on for more
red eye culprits and why your eyes are yellow, brown, white or

Common Causes for Red Eyes

Red eyes are often caused by a condition called "blepharitis",
inflammation of the eyelash follicles. Bhlepharitis can be
caused by, among other things,using eye makeup.  

Many eye infections, including blepharitis, are caused by  use of
mascara and eye liner, according to several studies, including a
2011 study Led by Dr. L. Clifford of the Portsmouth Eye Unit,
Queen Alexandra Hospital, Hampshire, UK.

Blepharitis is caused by an overabundance of bacteria due to
an infection, dermatitis or allergies. With blepharitis you may
feel like you’ve got dust or sand in your eye. Your eyes are red
and irritated, the eyelids crusted and swollen. You may
experience itching and burning.

Red eyes are also caused by uveitis, an inflammation of the
uvea, the middle layer of your eye beneath the white.
Symptoms also include blurred vision, floaters and
sensitivity. (Read more about causes of light sensitivity.)

Conjunctivitis is also known as "pink eye" although the
condition actually makes your eyes red. Conjunctivitis is also an
inflammation, this time of the clear layer that protects the front
of the eye. Conjunctivitis may be caused by many things –
allergies, viruses, bacteria or toxic substances.

When you don’t produce enough tears to lubricate the surface
of the eye it can become scratched, inflamed and red. This is
called dry eye. Sometimes wearing contact lenses can make
your eyes so dry they become red.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage – a burst blood vessel – can be
brought on by a bad sneezing or coughing fit, intense straining,
vomiting, or
high blood pressure and diabetes, according to a
study from the Department of Ophthalmology, Kozluk State
Hospital in Turkey.

This condition can also be caused by lifting heavy objects, such
as luggage while traveling.]

Simple dehydration can also cause blockages in your tear ducts
which can lead to red eyes and
crusty or white eye discharge.

High blood pressure, in particular, often causes subconjunctival
hemorrhage in the eyes, which can turn the whites of your
eyes yellow, many studies around the world have confirmed,
including a 2013 study from Adana Numune Training and
Research Hospital, Turkey. Having both diabetes and
hypertension weakens the walls of the blood vessels of your
eyes, this study found, which makes you more likely to have
yellow eyes.

Injury can also cause red eyes. More seriously, acute angle-
closure glaucoma is often characterized by a painful redness
that usually occurs in one eye only. Red eyes could be a sign of
an ulcer or infection in the cornea, the dome-like lens of the

Common Causes for Yellow Eyes

If your eyes are a yellow color, you could have jaundice.
Jaundice produces yellow-colored skin, membranes and eyes.
Jaundice is also a symptom of other disorders such as liver
damage. It is caused by a build-up of bilirubin – yellow pigment
from old blood cells – due to the liver being overloaded or
damaged or having too many red blood cells to process. Yellow
eyes are almost always a sign of jaundice so you need to get
checked out.  (Read more about
causes and remedies for

Causes of Brown Spots on the Eye

If you’re seeing a brown spot on your eye, flashes of light or
have distorted vision, visit your doctor as it may be a sign of
choroidal melanoma.

Malignant choroidal melanomas are very rare – according to
The Eye Cancer Network six out of every million people get a
choroidal melanoma each year in the United States – and very
serious as they can spread to other parts of the body.

Brown spots may also be caused by harmless productions of
melatonin, like freckles, and can be prevented by wearing
sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect the eyes from
the sun.

Many people notice a gray or white spot on the eye, or see that
the eye is white or cloudy. What does this mean? Leukocoria is
a condition where the pupil appears white instead of black.
Other conditions cause a cloudy cornea and make your eye look
discolored and “dirty”. These include cataracts, Coats' disease,
Sjogren's syndrome, poor nutrition and burns to the

On the issue of poor nutrition, many people are aware that you
need to eat need carrots and other foods rich in beta-carotene
to keep your eyes healthy. But most are not aware that your
eyes also need lutein and other micro-nutrients found in dark
green, leafy vegetables to remain healthy. (Read more about
foods that keep your eyes healthy.)

If you’re worried about yellow eyes, cloudy eyes or brown
spots you must visit a physician as the conditions that cause
these colored eyes can not usually be treated with natural
remedies. If your eyes are red, read on. We’ve had a good look
around all the literature about red and irritated eyes and come
up with the following 10 natural remedies.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Your Discolored Eyes

1. Gentle Cleansing Helps Clear Red Eyes

Sometime the simple remedies are the best. According to a
2005 review by Sheikh and Hurwitz published in the British
Journal of General Practice, 6% of conjunctivitis cases clear up
on their own after a few days.

But you can help the process along by gently cleaning around
the eye area with special cleanser or a simple warm water and
baby shampoo solution with a cotton swab.

Don’t use make up or contact lenses and wash your hands
frequently to avoid spreading the infection.

Red eyes caused by blepharitis also respond to daily cleansing
to remove skin oils that allow bacteria to grow on the edges of
your eyelids, according to a report by Ganatra and Goldstein in
the 3rd Edition of “Ophthalmology”.

Herbal Teas Help Red Eyes Caused by Conjunctivitis

For irritated or red eyes caused by conjunctivitis, try the
following herbal teas. But leave the mug on the shelf and put
the tea to work directly on the problem. Apply herbal tea to the
eyes using a compress or poultice.

  • Eyebright. With a name like "eyebright", you’d think this
    herb could help clear red eyes and it has been traditionally
    used as a herbal treatment in a tea preparation.

  • Calendula and chamomile. These herbs are said to have
    anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

  • Barberry, oregon grape and goldenseal. Herbs like
    barberry, Oregon grape and goldenseal all contain
    berberine, which has antimicrobial and antibacterial
    properties and is used as treatment for conjunctivitis in

Be careful about the sterility of the herbal tea compress you
use. If your compress isn’t sterile, you risk further infection.  

Bee Propolis Clears Your Eyes?

According to a 1985 study from Romania (led by Popescu,
Palos, and others) bee propolis, a sticky substance bees gather
up from trees, sap and other plant sources, is a helpful
treatment for red eyes from conjunctivitis. However, with
limited additional evidence and concerns about sterility when
applying the substance to the eye, this bee-assisted treatment
may not be the best for your red eyes.

Vitamins C and E Are a Helpful Treatment for Red Eyes

When the Vitamins C and E are taken together with standard
treatment they can pack a powerful punch against inflammtion
of the middle layer of your eye called "uveitis".

This is according to 1999 research from the Eye Hospital,
Rotterdam, Netherlands which carried out a double-blind trial
of 145 people who took either a placebo or vitamin C (500mg
twice daily) and vitamin E (100mg twice daily) in addition to
their regular treatment.

Those taking the Vitamins C and E had better visual acuity at
the end of the eight-week study – researchers think the
antioxidants increase eye health and help recovery from uveitis.

Foods rich in Vitamin C include bell peppers (these have more
Vitamin C than oranges), kiwis and of course oranges, lemons
and other citrus fruits.

An ounce of almonds provides 34% of your daily recommended
value of Vitamin E. Other foods rich in Vitamin E include wheat
germ oil (100% of the daily recommended value), corn, and
various fortified cereals and foods.

Whether other antioxidants will also help clear your red eyes,
like beta-carotene, citrus bioflavonoids, selenium and vitamin A,
is debatable.

Turmeric Treats Red Eyes Associated with Uveitis

One 1999 study from the Department of Ophthalmology, K.G.
Medical College, India made a surprising discovery, considering
the spiciness of the herb in question. Researchers found an
antioxidant made from turmeric was useful in treating red eyes
associated with uveitis. Although the study lacked a placebo
test group, the herb is worth considering in a preparation (not
applied directly to the eye).

Omega-6 Fatty Acids Help Treat Red Eyes

Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune condition where the
immune system negatively affects the tear glands and salivary

A 2005 study from the University of Messina in Italy found
treatment with omega-6 fatty acids increased the tear levels in
40 patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome, which improved the
signs and symptoms, including red eyes, of the condition.

Compresses Make Your Eyes Less Red

Calm down and get your red eyes back to normal with a cold
compress. This simple remedy helps redness disappear and also
reduces fluid retention around the eyes and swelling associated
with an eye infection.

Fill a clean bowl with ice and a little water, dip a washcloth into
the bowl and squeeze to remove the excess water. Sit back,
relax and apply your compress to closed eyes for five to 10
minutes, three or four times a day.

According to experts, if you have blepharitis,
warm compresses
also help.

Dietary Amino Acids Help Red Eye

A modified form of the amino acid cysteine called "N-Acetyl
Cysteine (NAC)" is believed to help the body create an
antioxidant that loosens the secretions that block the eye and
cause redness in blepharitis.

A 2002 study from SSK Okmeydani Training Hospital in
Istanbul, Turkey found N-Acetyl Cysteine at a dose of 100mg,
three times a day for eight weeks brought significant benefits
to the quality of the tear film in 50 blepharitis patients.

Flaxseed Oil Helps Improve Dry and Red Eyes?

Can flaxseed oil help ease the red and dry eyes associated with
Sjogren’s syndrome? A 2007 study from the Universidade de
Brasília, Brazil says "yes".

Researchers looked at 38 patients with dry eyes and surface
inflammation and found therapy with one or two grams of oral
flaxseed oil capsules a day reduced inflammation around the
eye and redness.

Antihistamines Treat Red Eyes Due to Allergies  

When the cause of your red eyes is an allergic reaction, your
relief could come from antihistamines. Over-the-counter
antihistamine eye drops are available which control the
irritation and itching associated with allergies.

Antihistamine eye drops also use a vasoconstrictor to shrink
swollen blood vessels, thereby reducing the redness. Be careful
– these “red eye reducers” can cause rebound redness. When
the effect of the drops wears off the blood vessels can dilate
much more. Don’t overuse and seek advice if your red eyes do
not clear up.


Jaundice -Causes and Cures

How High Blood Pressure Affects Your Eyes

Stop Night Blindness-Vitamin A Deficiency and Foods
That Help

Why Do I Feel Pain Behind My Eyes?

What to Eat for Healthy Eyes

Foods to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Foods to Help You Control Your Blood Sugar

Ideal Breakfast for Diabetes

Ideal Breakfast for Heart Health

Are Diet Sodas Bad for Your Health?

Foods That Lower Your Blood Sugar

Sugar-The Disease Connection
Usually Affects
One Eye or Both
What You Should Do
-Dry eye

-acute angle-closure
-corneal infection or ulcer

-eye strain from trying to

high blood pressure can
sometimes cause red eyes
All these
usually affect
both eyes.

However, red
eyes caused
from eye strain
can affect one
eye. If the other
eye is seeing in
focus without
glasses, it will
not become red.
If your red eyes are
accompanied by a
discharge, you have
impaired vision, pain in
the eye, headache,
nausea or vomiting,
see your doctor.

Vitamins C and E can
help red eye caused by

Bee propolis can
sometimes help
Normally both
eyes should be
No action required
See your doctor

-Coats' disease


-Sjogren syndrome

-Poor nutrition

-Corneal burn
See a doctor

-Chloroidal melanoma
(malignant cancer that is
very rare)

-Excess melatonin can
produce eye freckles
See a doctor if you
also have vision
problems or distortion
See a doctor to be
screened for liver
Most cases of pink eye are
actually conjunctivitis (see
Red eye above)
See remedies for red
eye caused by
conjunctivitis above

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

Home   >  Conditions   >
Eyes >> You Are Here
Eat for Eye Health
Remove Dark Eye Circles
Stye In Your Eye-Top Remedies
Swollen Eyelids-Causes and Remedies
Whites of Your Eyes-Remedies for
Red,Yellow, Gray and Brown Eyes

How High Blood Pressure Affects Your
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes-Lingering
Health Dangers from Volcanic Ash
Rightly or wrongly, having clear white
scleras has long been associated with
health and beauty.

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Oranges and other Vitamin C rich foods help to maintain
the health of your eyes. Try this delicious orange salad
over tri-colored greens, here topped with white balsamic
Orange juice and Greek yogurt smoothie. Half a cup of
orange juice, one half a cup of Greek yogurt.  I add 2
ice cubes and a banana, oatmeal or chia seeds to bulk
up the mixture.