Albinism(Also Known as Achromasia)

By: Victor Hoang

What is Albinism?

Albinism is a mutation/genetic disorder that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and/or eyes. Albinism can affect any race and approximately one in 18,000 to 20,000 people has some type of albinism. Albinism can also affect animals and plants too like lions, crocodiles, peacocks, snakes, and many others.

Symptoms

  • vision problems
  • Rapid, involuntary back-and-forth movement of the eyes (nystagmus)
  • Inability of both eyes to stay directed at the same point or to move in unison (strabismus)
  • Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Abnormal curvature of the front surface of your eye or the lens inside your eye (astigmatism), which causes blurred vision
  • white hair and pinkish skin, skin coloring (pigmentation) can range from white to brown
  • Hair color can range from very white to brown
  • Eye color can range from very light blue to brown and may change with age.

How it's diagnosed and are there any treatments?

Ways it's diagnosed are:
  • Your doctor may also diagnose the condition based on the appearance of your skin, hair, and eyes.
  • An ophthalmologist may perform an electroretinogram, which is a test that can reveal vision problems related to albinism.

How it's treated:

  • There is no cure for albinism. Treatment for albinism can relieve symptoms and prevent sun damage.

What can you expect in the future if you have this disorder?

Albinism does not usually affect lifespan. People with albinism may be limited in their activities because they can't tolerate the sun.

Facts on the Trait

Although, albinism is a mutation it can also be inherited through parents. Albinism is also a recessive trait that is found on the X-chromosome. This trait can be found in animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and even plants!

Fun Facts

A common myth is that people with albinism have red eyes, but most people with albinism have blue eyes, and some have hazel or brown eyes. People suffering from albinism have very little or no melanin pigment at all. This lack of melanin, the “color pigment” is why people suffering from this condition appear to have pale skin and very light eyes and hair.