What is Albinism?
Albinism refers to a group of conditions in which people have little or no pigment in their eyes, skin or hair. Albinism occurs due to inherited altered genes which do not make the usual amounts of pigment called ‘melanin’. Based on the amount of melanin in the eyes, different types of albinism can be distinguished, and all are associated with vision problems.
Vision problems in albinism result from abnormal development of the retina and abnormal patterns of nerve connections between the eye and the brain. Albinism affects people of all ethnic backgrounds; its frequency worldwide is estimated at 1 in 17,000.
Discover our visual aids for albinism.
What are the symptoms of Albinism
Eye problems in albinism often include:
- nystagmus: regular horizontal back and forth movement of the eyes
- strabismus: muscle imbalance of the eyes, “crossed” or “lazy” eyes
- photophobia: sensitivity to bright lights and glare
- far or near sightedness
- underdevelopment of the optic nerve
- discolouration or whiteness of the eyes due to lack of pigmentation
Normal vision vs. Albinism
What to expect from Albinism
The treatment of albinism mainly consists of visual rehabilitation. Surgery can help reduce some of the symptoms, such as strabismus and nystagmus. Although vision can not be restored completely, there are assistive devices available to help in a variety of daily tasks.
More information about Albinism
There is extensive information available about albinism from the Albinism Fellowship. The information included here is intended to inform you about the basics of this eye condition and is not intended as a replacement for information from your physician or eye specialist. Information regarding assistive devices that can help you if you have been diagnosed with albinism is included under Tools and Resources.