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Albinism - Causes, Symptoms and Facts about Albinism

Albinism is a genetic disease that some people are born with, caused by the lack of the skin pigment melanin. Melanin is responsible for giving color to our skin, eyes, and hair. It is the result of one inheriting recessive genes, thus albinism is a genetic disorder, not a skin disease. Those born with albinism have vision problems of varying degrees, such as nystagmus or involuntary eye movement, nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism, and extreme sensitivity to light (called photophobia).
There are different types of albinism, based on the degree of the lack of melanin in the human body. Oculocutaneous albinism is where the least amount of melanin pigment is present in the genes. This affects the hair, eyes, and skin. In the most severe cases of Oculocutaneous albinism, a person’s skin is pale and white; while hair is white to yellow throughout his life. Eyes are sometimes light blue.

Albinism - Types of Albinism: Ocular Albinism and HPS


Ocular albinism is when only the eyes are affected. This type of albinism is related to nystagmus. Ocular albinism has other subtypes of albinism. Ocular albinism type 1 is the most frequently occurring form of ocular albinism, and is more easy detectable on males rather than females. Type 2 is associated with color and night blindness. Type 3 is more common among the Amish than any other population. The last type is called ocular albinism with sensorineural deafness and sufferers have a loss of hearing.
The Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS) is a type of albinism wherein people are more prone to bleeding and bruising easily due to the lack of certain bodies in their platelets. It is also associated with lung and bleeding disease, inflammatory bowel disease and kidney disease. Unfortunately, for those suffering from HPS, it can become fatal in the middle age and can have reduced life expectancy.

Albinism is still currently untreatable, no therapies have been found to allow doctors to replace the amount of melanin that albinos lack. What medicine can do is to improve the eye problems as much as possible, but not cure. Due to the lack of melanin, the skin is very much prone to skin cancer.
People with rosacea have alternative, natural remedies to protect their skin. The sea buckthorn berry is loaded in antioxidant vitamins and essential fatty acids that can be used for skin conditions such as rosacea and burns. Those who have extra sensitive skin to sunlight should also take plenty of vitamins A, C, and E, and the coenzyme Q10 which are rich in antioxidants. Especially for those suffering from ocular albinism, they should consume carrots regularly which can aid in improving their eyesight, although not curing it entirely.

Albinos have even more risk to sun damage and sun cancer as fairly skinned people, who are also lacking in melanin to protect their skin. Much care should be put into protecting their skin against the sun’s harmful rays. They should also consume vegetables that are rich in antioxidants such as dark leafy greens and should stay away from smoke and other forms of free radicals. The antioxidants are essential to protecting the healthy cells in the body.

Due to the many risks possessed by those born with albinism, much care and effort should be taken in making their lives as comfortable and healthy as possible to further reduce risks.