Albinism

A Rare Disorder

Signs and Symptoms

Albinism is an inherited disorder that is usually evident in a person's skin, hair, and eye color. Your body has little to no pigment melanin. The symptom that is always apparent is vision problems. People with this disorder is sensitive to sun exposure and has a high chance of getting skin cancer.

Treatments For Albinism

Albinism is a genetic disorder so there is limited treatment. People with albinism will need to wear prescription lenses, and they will need to get annual eye exams by an ophthalmologist. Surgery is rare, but their ophthalmologist may recommend surgery on their optical muscles to minimize nystagmus.

People with albinism will have to have an annual assessment for their skin. The doctors will check for skin cancer or lesions that can lead to cancer. People with albinism can't do many activities involving going outside in the sun. They should avoid any contact with the sun by wearing sunscreen, protective clothing and UV-blocking sunglasses.

More Facts

  • Overall, about 1 in 20,000 people are born with albinism.
  • There are five types of albinism: OCA Type 1, OCA Type 2, OCA Type 3, OCA Type 4, and X-Linked Ocular Albinism.
  • People with albinism have sensitive feelings because they know they are different.

Cites

  1. Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
  2. Albinism. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/pigmentation_disorders/albinism.html?qt=&sc=&alt=. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
  3. Levin AV, et al. Albinism for the busy clinician. Journal of AAPOS. 2011;1:59.
  4. What is albinism? National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH). http://www.albinism.org/publications/2010/What_is_Albinism.pdf. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
  5. Summers CG. Albinism: Classification, clinical characteristics and recent findings. Optometry and Vision Science. 2009;86:659.
  6. Gronskov K, et al. Oculocutaneous albinism. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 2007;2:43.
  7. Brodsky MC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 15, 2013.
  8. Hand JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 13, 2013.