Why do black people have yellow eyes?

+12 votes
asked May 2, 2018 in Science by Landra (990 points)
edited Jul 5, 2018
I noticed that most ethnicities have white eyes, but black people seem to have yellow eyes. Why is that?

2 Answers

+26 votes
answered Aug 2, 2018 by Crystal (1,040 points)
edited Oct 19, 2018

There are several reasons why the whites of someone’s eyes might be yellow. Most frequently in people of Caucasian background, jaundice and smoking can cause the whites of the eyes to appear yellow. However, people of African descent have in their bodies a greater amount of melanin, which is the pigment that regulates the color of the eyes, skin, and even the sclera (the white part of the eyes). Because of these increased concentrations of melanin, which are simply hereditary and benign, people of African descent may have eye colors ranging in color from light yellow to brown.

The sclera is the white part surrounding the iris. It is a tough, fibrous material that reaches from the cornea (the clear part at the front of the eye) to the optic nerve found behind the eye. The sclera is the part of the eye that looks white.

For people of African descent, the sclera can range in color from white-yellow to muddy brown. This is a common and harmless condition for people of this ethnicity, and is often mistaken as jaundice. When assessing patients for jaundice, the sclera is the first area to examine. Caution must be taken when examining individuals for jaundice, as yellowness in the sclera may just be a benign melanin concentration.

Various fair to dark-skinned races, such as African-Americans, Filipinos, and many others, have deposits of subconjunctival fat. This means that they have high levels of carotene in the fat of the sclera, which can also mimic the symptoms of jaundice. The fatty deposits grow denser as they get further from the cornea.



+7 votes
answered Oct 9, 2018 by RodolfoBerge (300 points)
edited Oct 24, 2018
Why do black people have yellow eyes? Some black people appear to have yellow eyes because black people generally have a heavier concentration of melanin, some of which is present in the sclera (the white part of the eye surrounding the iris).

Melanin also controls the color of the skin and iris. The palms of hands and soles of feet lack melanin, so those areas are more uniform.

Also, Africans who live in poverty are more likely to have issues with their livers, which can lead to a build-up of red blood cells, a condition known as cirrhosis. This most frequently occurs in premature newborns, as well as malnourished adults.
Welcome to Instant Answer, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community.