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Those who have albinism, a genetic disorder, have a limited ability to produce melanin or are unable to produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that determines skin, hair, and eye color. In addition, melanin affects the development of some of the nerves in the eye, or optical nerves. No cure exists for albinism so albinism treatment will only affect the symptoms of albinism. Albinism treatment includes wearing sunscreens, avoiding sunlight, having regular checkups for skin cancer and, in some cases, eye surgery.
Albinism treatment depends on the severity of as well as the type of albinism an individual has. Physicians recommend wearing long sleeved shirts and pants as well as hats to minimize exposure to the sun. In addition, physicians recommend wearing sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) level that includes protection against both against both UVA and UVB light as well as wearing sun glasses that have ultraviolet (UV) protection. Another albinism treatment is to use visual aids such as glasses, contact lenses, and magnifying glasses because people with albinism frequently suffer vision problems. A physician may recommend surgery to correct strabismus or nystagmus.
There are a number of types of albinism. These include Oculocutaneous albinism type 1, which is caused by a defect to an enzyme called tyrosinase that helps in pigment construction, and Oculocutaneous albinism type 2, which affects the P gene. The P gene helps tyrosinase work. Other types of albinism include X-linked ocular albinism, which almost always only affects males, and tuberous sclerosis, where small areas of the skin lack coloring.
The stereotypical “albino” has white hair, white skin, and pink or red irises. In fact, most albinos have blue eyes. In addition, the shades of skin color and hair color vary more widely than simply white. A common factor among those who have albinism is that all albinos have vision problems.
Vision problems associated with albinism include photophobia, or sensitivity to light; strabismus, or being cross eyed; and nystagmus, or quick, involuntary eye movements. Other vision problems that albinos may experience are astigmatism, nearsidedness, or farsidedness. Some albinos can be functionally blind.
People who have albinism have an increased risk of getting sunburned. In addition, albinos also may be at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. Albinism can also lead to pachyderma, where the skin becomes thick and rough.
Those who have albinism are also subject to social pressures simply because albinos look can look different from the "regular" population. In addition, those with albinism may not look as much like other family members. Some people with albinism find the word "albino" offensive because this word focuses on physical characteristics rather than as individual human beings. All of this can lead to feelings of being an outsider and lead to increased stress.
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