Albinism Symptoms

The Many Symptoms Of Albinism

There are many different symptoms of albinism although the predominant symptoms have to do with skin and hair coloration and problems with vision. Albinism is an inherited condition in which the pigment melanin is either absent or nearly so. The rate at which melanin is produced determines the color of the eyes, the hair, and the skin. The absence or near-absence of melanin can be traced back to a mutation in one of several genes.

There are several different types of albinism, but all of them have as a constant a less than normal production of melanin or no production at all. Melanin plays an important role in the development of the eyes, specifically the optic nerves. Consequently, affected individuals will usually have vision problems no matter what type of albinism they have. While the condition of albinism is not curable, it is treatable. In treating the condition it is imperative that one avoids too much exposure to sunlight.

Symptoms Evident In The Skin And Hair - Those who have albinism will feature skin that is very pale or white in color. If some melanin is being produced, the white skin may appear in patches rather than the entire skin being white. In the absence of melanin, the person will be extremely sensitive to sunburn and at the same time be more susceptible to skin cancer. With some individuals, exposure to sunlight results in a temporary production of melanin, making a suntan possible. In others the increased amount of melanin may simply manifest itself as freckles, moles, or large spots called lentigines.

Symptoms of albinism are also usually very noticeable in the hair which may be perfectly white in some individuals, or like the skin, patchy white in those cases where some melanin is being produced.

Vision Issues - Insofar as the eyes are concerned, the symptoms of albinism commonly include a sensitivity to glare or bright light, blurry vision, and occasionally near blindness. Rapid eye movement, wandering eye movement and irregular eye movement are other symptoms that can be present. Those with albinism often suffer from astigmatism, and have a greater tendency to be either far sighted or near sighted than is the case with the average healthy person. Albinism can also affect the development of the retina, and make the eyes appear translucent, such that they sometimes appear to be red when reflecting light.

Oculocutaneous Albinism - The most common form of albinism is called oculocutaneous albinism. While the lack of pigmentation may never change, in some cases the individual’s hair, though white in infancy, may slowly turn to blonde or a golden blonde, and sufficient melanin may be produced to even allow the skin to take on a tan. Also the eyes may gradually change color and lose some the characteristic translucent appearance.

Rarely Experienced Symptoms - Symptoms of albinism may also include problems in the lungs and the bowels, or a low white blood count level leading to a greater susceptibility towards infection. These symptoms are associated with several types of albinism which are quite rare.

Treatment - Avoiding undue exposure to sunlight is the usual prescribed treatment for albinism, and insofar as vision problems are concerned, many of them can often be successfully treated by an optician. The greatest challenge sometimes is that of convincing those affected that what they have is a rather rare disorder springing from a mutation of one of their genes (a copy of which is inherited from both parents by the way), but it should not set them apart from the rest of the population. Albinism does not affect intellect, and when proper steps are taken should not affect one's personality either.