Is a blind person’s eye white?

Blindness is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Total blindness means having no vision at all, while legal blindness generally means having 20/200 vision or worse. With legal blindness, a person may still be able to see shapes and colors, but details are blurred. As one might expect, blindness has a significant impact on a person’s appearance and function. But what about a blind person’s eyes themselves? Are they white, or do they appear different? This article will explore what causes blindness, how it affects the eyes, and whether a blind person typically has white-looking eyes.

What Causes Blindness?

There are a variety of causes of blindness, many of which are diseases or conditions affecting the eyes directly. Major causes include:

  • Macular degeneration – Breakdown of the macula, which is responsible for central vision.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – Damage to the retina’s blood vessels due to diabetes.
  • Glaucoma – Damage to the optic nerve, often due to fluid pressure buildup in the eye.
  • Cataracts – Clouding of the lens of the eye.
  • Eye infections – Infections like trachoma can scar the cornea and cause vision loss.
  • Eye injuries – Severe trauma to the eye from an accident or injury.
  • Birth defects – Defects present from birth, like missing or poorly developed eyes.

These conditions affect different parts of the eye and visual system, leading to blindness. For example, cataracts cause cloudiness in the lens, preventing light from properly passing through to the retina. Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels supplying the retina. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve itself. But in most cases, the eyeball itself remains intact.

How Does Blindness Affect the Appearance of the Eye?

When a person loses their vision from disease or trauma, the eye itself often remains undamaged. The cornea, iris, pupil, and sclera (the white part) may appear normal. However, there are certain changes that can happen to the appearance of a blind person’s eyes:

  • Eyes may seem motionless – With loss of vision, the eyes lose the ability to follow objects and focus.
  • Eyes may wander or not align – Poor eye muscle control may cause misaligned eyes (strabismus).
  • Eyes may water excessively – Tear production continues but drainage can be blocked.
  • Eyes may remain partially dilated – The iris may not respond normally to light levels.
  • Cataracts cause a whitish hue – Advanced cataracts block light and give the lens a white tint.
  • The pupil may appear abnormal – Certain diseases affect pupil size and reactions.

Many of these changes are due to disrupted communication between the eyes and brain. With blindness, the brain cannot properly control eye movement, focusing, and pupil constriction. Misaligned eyes are common, and eyes appear still since they lose the ability to scan and follow objects. Excessive tearing can occur as tear production continues but drainage is blocked. The pupils may remain dilated since they cannot react to light. Advanced cataracts cause the lens to take on a white opacity.

Are a Blind Person’s Eyes White?

In most cases, the sclera (white part of the eye) in blind patients remains white. Unless the eye has been physically damaged and scarred, the sclera will maintain its normal white appearance. However, the disorders causing blindness can sometimes affect eye color:

  • Albinism – Lack of pigment results in very light blue or even pinkish eyes.
  • Cataracts – Advanced cataracts give the lens a white, opaque look.
  • Vitiligo – Patchy loss of iris pigment may lighten colored parts of the iris.

But in typical cases of age-related blindness or blindness from diseases like glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, the sclera remains white though the pupils may appear dilated and gray. The iris will usually maintain its normal coloring as well. For example, a person with brown eyes blinded by macular degeneration would most often still have white scleras and brown irises. Only certain conditions like advanced cataracts would give the eyes an unusual whitish/blue hue.

Causes of Abnormal Eye Color in the Blind

Here is some more detail on causes of abnormal eye colors in blind patients:


Albinism is a genetic condition resulting in little or no melanin pigment production. This includes pigment in the eyes. Without this pigment, the irises may appear light blue, gray, or even pinkish. The albinism also often causes vision problems like legal blindness. So a blind person with albinism may have noticeably light-colored irises due to the lack of melanin.


As cataracts worsen, the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy and opaque. In advanced cataracts, this opacity gives the lens a whitish-blue color. The pupil, seen through the clouded lens, also appears milky white or blue-ish. So advanced cataracts can make the normally black pupil appear light.


This condition causes the skin to lose pigment in patches. It can affect the iris too, causing segmental loss of iris pigment. One part of the iris may retain its color while another part loses pigment and turns a lighter shade. An iris that is normally brown may take on a patchy brown and light brown appearance.

Eye Injuries

Severe injuries to the eye can sometimes scar and discolor portions of the sclera and iris through trauma to these structures. The integrity of the eye may remain intact, but scarring and pigment changes can lighten the affected areas.

Certain Eye Drops

Dilating drops and some glaucoma medications can cause uniform lightening of the iris color by thinning and lightening the melanin pigment. These drops are sometimes used long-term in blind patients, which can cause permanent color lightening over time.

Can Blindness Itself Cause the Iris or Sclera to Change Color?

Blindness itself does not directly cause changes to the physical coloration of eye structures like the sclera and iris. Blindness is due to optic nerve or neural pathway damage, which does not affect the physical pigmentation of the eyes. For example, blindness caused by retinal detachment or diabetic retinopathy arises from damage to nervous system components, not the iris or sclera.

However, some secondary effects of blindness like constant dilation and poor drainage can eventually lead to changes in eye appearance. But in most cases of age-related blindness, the sclera and iris retain their normal coloration.


In summary, a blind person’s eyes are often still white in color. The sclera generally maintains its normal white hue regardless of the cause of blindness. Only certain conditions like advanced cataracts, albinism, and eye drops cause the sclera or other parts of the eye to take on an abnormal white, bluish, or lightened appearance. The iris also typically retains its normal color, though vitiligo, injuries, and some medications can also lighten or alter its pigmentation.

Blindness itself does not directly affect the physical pigmentation of the eye. Changes to eye color arise secondarily from issues like constant dilation, poor drainage, specific diseases, and side effects of certain eye drops. But in typical cases of age-related blindness, the sclera remains white and the iris keeps its normal coloration. The loss of sight does not cause the eyes to become physically white or depigmented. Proper eye care and management of secondary issues can help maintain the normal appearance of the eyes as much as possible.

Table summarizing eye color changes in blind patients

Condition Effect on Eye Color
Albinism Very light blue, gray, pink irises
Cataracts Cloudy white/blue lens
Vitiligo Patchy loss of iris pigment
Eye injuries Scarring and discoloration
Certain eye drops General lightening of iris color

Frequently Asked Questions

Are blind people’s eyes solid white?

No, in most cases the sclera of the eye remains its normal white color while the iris retains its typical pigmentation. Only certain conditions like albinism, cataracts, and vitiligo cause the entire eye to take on a solid white appearance.

Why do some blind people’s eyes wander or not focus?

With blindness, the brain loses its ability to precisely control eye muscles and focus. This can cause eyes to wander in different directions or fail to focus properly on objects.

Do blind people’s eyes water a lot? Why?

Yes, excess tearing is common in blind patients. Tear production continues as normal but drainage can be disrupted due to reduced blinking and improper functioning of tiny eye drainage ducts.

Are pupils always dilated in blind individuals?

Often pupils remain dilated or do not respond normally to light due to improper signals from the retina to the brain. But pupil response varies – some blind patients’ pupils can still constrict partially.

Can blindness be cured if caught early enough?

For certain causes like cataracts, prompt treatment can restore vision. But many conditions like macular degeneration and glaucoma cause permanent damage. Early detection helps limit damage but cannot restore vision that is already lost.


In most typical cases of age-related blindness or visual impairment, a blind person’s eyes remain white and normal in color. The sclera stays white and the iris retains its natural pigment. Only specific diseases and conditions like cataracts, albinism, and vitiligo can alter the natural color of the eyes. Blindness itself does not directly cause changes to eye coloration, though disruption of tear drainage and pupillary reflexes can secondarily lead to some changes in appearance over time. With proper management of these secondary effects, the eyes of a blind individual can retain their natural coloring and minimize abnormal changes as much as possible.

Leave a Comment