By : Asia Winder
Sometimes, a kid or an animal might be born whose body can't make a normal amount of melanin. This is what happens with albinism, which can show up as a lack of pigment (color) in the skin, eyes, hair, fur, or feathers of that kid or animal. There are different kinds of albinism. Some kids with albinism might have pale skin or hair. Other types of albinism might affect only the eyes.
Most kids with albinism have blue eyes, and others have brownish eyes. In some cases of albinism, a kid's eyes might appear pink or reddish. This isn't because the iris (the colored part of the eye) is pink or red. It's because the iris actually has very little color. The eyes appear pink or red because the blood vessels inside of the eye (on the retina) show through the iris.
Some kids with albinism wear glasses or contact lenses to help them see better. Others might need eye surgery. An eye doctor can help figure out ways to help a person with albinism see better.
Another problem for kids with albinism is that their eyescan be very sensitive to light. The iris usually helps control the amount of light coming into your eye and hitting your retina, which is located at the back of your eyeball. When a person has albinism, the iris doesn't have enough color and can't properly shield the retina from light. So, kids with albinism often squint in bright light. Wearing sunglasses or tinted contact lenses can help make a kid with albinism more comfortable out in the sun.
What causes it??
Well, this happens because each parent has a normal pigment gene and an albinism gene. For a kid to have albinism, the dad's albinism gene and the mom's albinism gene both have to get passed on to the kid.
But if a kid gets an albinism gene from one parent and a normal pigment gene from the other, the kid won't have albinism. Instead, the kid will be a "carrier" of an albinism gene — which means he or she would have one normal pigment gene and one albinism gene. So, if that kid grows up and has a child with someone who is also a carrier of an albinism gene, there would be a chance that their child might have albinism.
So what about kids with light skin and light hair . . . or animals with white fur or feathers? Do they have albinism? Not necessarily. Their genes may tell them to be light-skinned or fair-haired, like their mom or dad. Likewise, not all animals with white fur or feathers have albinism. Polar bears, for instance, have genes that tell them to be white.