Albinism Facts

Albinism Facts
Albinism is a congenital disorder that results in either a partial or complete lack of pigment in the affected person's skin, eyes, and hair. The two main types of human albinism are ocular, which means it affects only the eyes, and oculocutaneous, which means it affects hair, skin, and the eyes. People with oculocutaneous albinism do not have the melanin pigments and appear pale or white. Ocular albinism can often require genetic testing as the only sign is very pale blue eyes. Those with albinism can be very susceptible to damage from the sun because they lack the pigments that would protect them from radiation. There is no treatment for albinism and it must be managed through lifestyle to protect those affected from the sun. Some experience eye disorders that can require surgery or visual rehabilitation.
Interesting Albinism Facts:
Albinism can occur in all ethnicities. The chances of being born with albinism are one in roughly 17,000. Males and females are affected equally.
In Africa the rate of albinism is about 1 in 5,000. In Europe the rate is about 1 in 20,000.
The highest rate of albinism occurs in those with sub-Saharan African ancestry.
In some cultures those with albinism are ridiculed and discriminated against.
In some African countries, witchcraft-related murders of those with albinism have risen.
Because of the murders and assaults of those affected by albinism in some parts of the world, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 13th of June International Albinism Awareness Day.
The effects of albinism can range in severity. It is considered a genetic disorder.
All people with albinism have some level of vision dysfunction ranging from mild to severe.
Because of the lack of melanin in the skin, people with albinism are more susceptible to developing skin cancer.
As people with albinism age they can sometimes fine that their skin begins to darken slightly.
In those with albinism their hair can range from white to brown, sometimes appearing yellow or even red.
Those with albinism sometimes find that their hair will darken somewhat as they age.
Because of the lack of pigment in the eyes of someone with albinism, they are sensitive to light. This is referred to as photosensitive.
Issues with eye function in those affected by albinism can include nystagmus (rapid uncontrollable back and forth eye movement), strabismus (eyes fail to function in unison), amblyopia (lazy eye), being extremely near or far-sighted, photophobia, having underdeveloped optic nerves, misrouting of optic nerve signaling, and astigmatism (blurred vision).
Newborn babies affected by albinism tend to have vision problems at their worst at birth but they tend to improve during their first six months.
The reason that eyes are most affected by albinism is because the optic nerve and retina development are impacted by melanin, which is lacking in those with the genetic condition.
It is estimated that 1 in 70 people carry albinism genes but are not affected. If two parents carry the gene the chances are 1 in 4 that their child will have the disorder.

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