What is Albinism?
Albinism refers to a group of conditions in which people have little or no pigment in their eyes, skin or hair. Albinism occurs due to inherited altered genes which do not make the usual amounts of pigment called ‘melanin’. Based on the amount of melanin in the eyes, different types of albinism can be distinguished. What the different types have in common is that they are all associated with vision problems. Vision problems in albinism result from abnormal development of the retina and abnormal patterns of nerve connections between the eye and the brain.
Albinism affects people of all ethnic backgrounds; its frequency worldwide is estimated at 1 in 17.000.
Discover our visual aids for albinism.
Normal vision vs. Albinism
What are the symptoms of Albinism?
Eye problems in albinism often include:
- nystagmus: regular horizontal back and forth movement of the eyes
- strabismus: muscle imbalance of the eyes, “crossed” or “lazy” eyes
- photophobia: sensitivity to bright lights and glare
- far- or nearsightedness
- underdevelopment of the optic nerve
- discoloration or whiteness of the eyes due to lack of pigmentation
What to expect from Albinism?
The treatment of albinism mainly consists of visual rehabilitation. Surgery can help reduce some of the symptoms, such as strabismus and nystagmus. Although vision cannot be restored completely, there are assistive devices available to help in a variety of daily tasks.
More information about Albinism
There is extensive information available about albinism. The information included is intended to inform you about the basics of this eye condition and is not intended as a replacement for information from your physician or eye specialist. Information regarding assistive devices that can help you if you have been diagnosed with albinism is included. Our recommendations can be found under Tools and Resources.