Sports

What Is Up With Michael Jordan’s Yellowish Eyes in 'The Last Dance'?

We spoke to an eye doctor to find out.
15 May 2020, 9:56am
michael jordan, yellow, eyes, last dance
Image from 'The Last Dance' on Netflix. 

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.

Now on its eighth episode, The Last Dance has been the perfect stay-at-home show for sports fans and anyone nostalgic for the 90s. The ESPN and Netflix co-production is a 10-part series that follows the NBA’s Chicago Bulls in their final championship season, from 1997 to 1998.

It features present-day interviews with the team and other prominent figures, including, of course, Michael Jordan. But apart from his unforgettable games, gravity-defying dunks, and controversies, one other thing has caught people’s attention.

Fans are now wondering why Jordan’s eyes were yellow in more recent interviews for the documentary. It has even become a discussion topic of its own.

According to some viewers, present-day MJ seems to have disturbingly bloodshot, yellowish eyes. Many are concerned that it's a symptom of larger health problems.

A yellowish tint to the whites of the eyes usually indicates jaundice, the result of an accumulation of bilirubin in the conjunctiva. Jaundice is commonly linked to liver diseases such as hepatitis, gallstones, cirrhosis, and even cancer. However, Jordan has not publicly addressed concerns about his eyes, nor has he made references to jaundice or liver problems.

Some think that it’s no biggie, considering his eyes have appeared like this as early as the 2000s.

Still, concerns about Jordan’s health are justified.

“Yellow eyes should not be ignored because they are a sign of something more going on. There is literally more than meets the eye,” Dr. Val Phua, an ophthalmologist at Eagle Eye Centre Singapore, told VICE. “Leaving eye conditions untreated includes compromise in vision and even blindness.”

He said that in some cases, "yellow eyes" may not even be the real issue. They could also be reddish, on top being slightly off-colour. In this case, causes can include conjunctivitis, inflamed pterygium and pingueculae, uveitis, and endophthalmitis.

“These conditions are quite varied in their prognosis and have to be addressed individually.”

What about MJ’s eyes, then?

“(Jordan’s) eyes are slightly discoloured which may point to jaundice, but there seems to also be a slightly raised lesion on the eye, which can point to something local causing the discolouration like a pinguecula,” Dr. Phua observed.

A pinguecula is a benign growth that develops on the surface of one’s eye.

“Yellowish discolouration of the eyes may be more obvious in a dark-skinned individual compared with someone who is fair-skinned,” he continued.

Indeed, some think that the discolouration may be due to melanin pigment on the surface of his eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a discolouration of the eyes is a benign condition that is more commonly found among African-Americans.

Of course, Dr. Phua noted that it’s difficult to commit to a diagnosis based solely on MJ’s appearance in the documentary.

So until Jordan talks about it himself, it seems that speculation about the basketball star’s yellow eyes will continue to plague fans everywhere.

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