Albinism

Albinism is a genetic defect that makes the body unable to produce or distribute melanin, a natural pigment that gives color to hair, skin, and the iris of the eye.

About one in 17,000 people have Albinism. In one form of albinism, called Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) people will have white or pink hair and skin, a very light blue iris, as well as difficulty seeing.

Much more rare than OCA, Ocular albinism (OA) affects only the eyes.  Skin and hair will be similar to family members or just slightly lighter.  

Individuals with albinism do not have clear vision due to an underdevelopment of the central part of the retina called the macula. The macula is responsible for sharp, detail vision which works most well in bright light. The retina is very pale because of the lack of pigment.

  • Female with Albinism

    Patients with Albinism are great candidates for bioptics.

  • Individuals with albinism often have
    pale blue eyes and white eyelashes.

Eye Symptoms

Due to the lack of pigment in the eyes, individuals with albinism will have a number of vision difficulties:

  • Reduced Visual Acuity
  • Light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • Rapid eye movements (Nystagmus)
  • Misaligned eyes (strabismus)

    Day to day challenges

    Since individuals are born with albinism, they will encounter challenges due to their vision from a very early age, that can affect socialization, schooling, and independent travel, career and personal opportunities.

    Excellent response to low vision aids

    Fortunately, individuals with albinism respond very well to low vision care and especially to bioptic telescopes. A bioptic telescope may provide them with close to normal vision allowing them to see friends and family at a distance, the teacher and blackboard in school, signs at a distance, and even the computer. They may even offer the opportunity for obtaining a driver’s license!