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Symptoms and treatment of albinism

Albinism is a group of inherited disorders and they are characterized by little production of the pigment melanin. The type and amount of melanin the body produces will determine the color of the skin, hair and eyes. People with albinism are sensitive when exposed to the sun and they are at risk of developing skin cancer. People suffering from this disorder can feel socially isolated and they experience discrimination in some cases. If you want to learn more about this condition, click here.

Symptoms of albinism

  • There are problems with the vision
  • White hair and pinkish skin along with pigmentation ranges from white to brown
  • When exposed to sun, they develop freckles, moles with or without pigments. The moles have no pigment and their color is pink as well as large spots similar to freckles.
  • The color of the hair ranges from white to brown
  • The color of the eye ranges from light blue to brown and can change with age. Irises which lack pigment in the colored part of the eyes, makes them translucent and cannot block light from entering the eye. Very light-colored eyes appear red in some lighting which is the same red-eye that occurs in a flash photo.
  • There is rapid and involuntary back-and-forth movement of the eyes also known as nystagmus.
  • Strabismus is the inability of both the eyes to stay at the same point or move in unison.
  • Extreme vision like near-sightedness and farsightedness
  • Photophobia which is sensitivity to light
  • There is an abnormal curvature found at the front surface of the eye or astigmatism in which the lens inside the eye that causes a blurred vision.

Causes of albinism

Albinism

People with albinism are sensitive when exposed to the sun and they are at risk of developing skin cancer.

Albinism is caused by a mutation in one of several genes and each gene provides several proteins involved in the production of melanin which is produced by cells called melanocytes that are found in the skin and eyes. A mutation can result to absence of melanin or a decline in the amount of melanin.

Types of albinism

  • Oculocutaneous albinism is caused by a mutation in one or four genes. The individual has milky skin, white hair and blue eyes at birth.
  • X-linked ocular albinis occurs mostly in males which is a gene mutation on the X chromosome. They have difficulty in their vision, skin, hair and eye color are in the normal range.
  • Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome is an uncommon disorder caused by mutation of eight different genes. Their symptoms are similar to people with oculocutaneous albinism, but they can develop certain diseases like bowel or lung diseases or a bleeding
  • Chediak-Higashi syndrome is also an uncommon form with symptoms similar to oculocutaneous albinism. The color of the hair is brown or blond with a silvery gloss, the skin is creamy white to greyish.

Treatment and home remedies

  • Apply sunscreen with sun protection factor or SPF at least 30 for protection against UVA and UVB light.
  • Use low vision aids like hand-held magnifying glass, monocular or a magnifier that are attached to glasses.
  • Avoid prolonged sun exposure like being outside in the middle of day and on sunny days with a thin cloud cover.
  • If outdoors and walking under the heat of the sun, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a broad-rimmed hats.
  • Protect the eyes by wearing dark, ultraviolet blocking sunglasses or transition lenses that darkens when exposed to bright light.

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