What is Albanism?
Albinism is a rare group of genetic disorders that cause the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color. Albinism is also associated with vision problems. According to the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH), approximately one in 17,000 people have a form of albinism.
Who Is at Risk for Albinism?
Albinism is an inherited disorder that is present at birth. Children are at risk of being born with albinism if they have parents with albinism, or parents who carry the gene for albinism.
What are the Symptoms of Albinism?
People with albinism will have the following symptoms:
an absence of color in the hair, skin, or eyes
lighter than normal coloring of the hair, skin, or eyes
patches of skin that have an absence of color
Albinism is associated with vision problems, which may include:
strabismus (crossed eyes)
photophobia (sensitivity to light)
nystagmus (involuntary rapid eye movements)
impaired vision or blindness
How Is Albinism Diagnosed?
The most accurate way to diagnose albinism is through genetic testing to detect defective genes related to albinism. Less accurate ways of detecting albinism include an evaluation of symptoms by your doctor, or an electroretinogram test (that measures the response of the light-sensitive cells in the eyes) to reveal problems with your eyes associated with albinism.
How Is Albinism Treated?
There is no cure for albinism. Treatment for albinism is provided to relieve symptoms and to prevent sun damage. Treatment for albinism may include:
sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV rays
protective clothing and sunscreen to protect the skin from UV rays
prescription eyeglasses to correct vision problems
surgery on the muscles of the eyes to correct abnormal eye movements
What Is The Long-Term Outlook For Albinism?
Most forms of albinism do not affect lifespan. Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, Chediak-Higashi syndrome, and Griscelli syndrome, however, do affect lifespan because of the co-occurring health problems associated with the syndromes. People with albinism may have to limit their outdoor activities because their skin and eyes are sensitive to the sun. UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer and vision loss in some people with albinism.