Albinism is actually a whole group of genetic disorders together. What is missing is melanin in the pigment of the skin. Whatever type of melanin you have is what the determining factor of your skin color is, as well as your eye color and the coloring of your hair. People that have albinism are terribly sensitive to sun exposure, and at high risk for the development of skin cancers.
Not only does melanin play a role in hair and skin colors, but it is also instrumental in optical nerve development. So the optical development in turn, has a large bearing on how well your eyes work.
No scientist has ever found a cure as of yet for albinism . So people that are living with this problem, have to avoid sun as much as possible, and watch their vision for changes that can easily occur. This disorder doesn’t have any bearing on a person’s learning abilities. The big problem is that these people, often feel very different, and definitely tend to be isolated from others.
Typical symptoms of albinism are things such as:
1. The skin is extremely white and a milky color. This will stay the same unless melanin is produced more normally. This does happen sometimes during the teen years, and sometimes not.
2. Freckles on the skin are pretty common.
3. People that have albinism will develop moles without pigment or with it.
Now the hair color can be really white, or be more like a brown color. Those people that are either Asian or African and have albinism may even have a yellow or brown colored hair. In some cases, it might also be more on the red side.
Most people with albinism have eyes that will change from blue that is very light to a brown shade. Since the eyes often don’t have the right amount of pigment there, eyes can turn red. This is due to the lack of protection that your iris usually gives you in the light. When albinism affects eye functions, there is an involuntary movement to the eyes where they blink rapidly in a back-and-forth motion kind of way. The eyes are also known to wander a lot and not keep still in the same direction. It is also not uncommon to have astigmatism in the eyes.
The cause of albinism lays within the genes which a mutation taking place in one of several. Your genes are the things that provide the proper chemical codes which is to produce melanin like I mentioned at the beginning. Cells called melanocytes are what produces melanin. When there is this effect of mutation, then melanin is lacking, and causes albinism.
A mutation in Chromosome 11 is what brings on Oculocutaneous albinism 1. This is where the milky white skin also appears along with hair color and eyes.
There is one of about four genes that causes Oculocutaneous albinism. This is the form of albinism that results in hair, eye color, and skin color.
African Americans and Sub-Saharan Africans often have Oculocutaneous albinism 2. The mutation of chromosome 15 is the major cause of this albinism form.
Albinism doesn’t go away. There are treatments for the eyes that are affected, and seeing the eye doctor on a regular basis is very important to keep a handle on visual problems resulting from this disorder. And as I also said earlier, many skin problems and some skin cancers are not uncommon.
The National Organiztion for Albinism can help for support. You may type in NOAH or the full name on your computer to get information and support.