Jaundiced Eyes

Did you ever hear of a person looking at something or someone with a “jaundiced eye”? It means to take a negative view, such as envy, maliciousness, or ill will. The expression may be based on the antiquated idea that liver bile is associated with such negative emotions as these, as well as the fact that excessive liver bile causes jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin. Jaundice is likely to be a sign of a liver disorder or blockage of the duct that carries bile away from the liver. Bile contains waste products, making the liver an organ of excretion. Bile also has an important role in digestion, making the liver an accessory organ of digestion.

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Accessory organs of digestion are organs that secrete substances needed for the chemical digestion of food but through which food does not actually pass as it is digested. Besides the liver, the major accessory organs of digestion are the gallbladder and pancreas. These organs secrete or store substances that are needed for digestion in the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum, where most chemical digestion takes place. You can see the three organs and their locations in Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\).


The liver is a vital organ located in the upper right part of the abdomen. It lies just below the diaphragm to the right of the stomach. The liver plays an important role in digestion by secreting bile. However, the liver has a wide range of additional functions unrelated to digestion. In fact, some estimates put the number of functions of the liver at about 500! A few of them are described below.

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Liver and nearby organs