Albinism

By Anna H, Dina A, and Kristen A

Introduction
Albinism is a hereditary disease. It isn't contagious and it affects the skin, hair and eye pigment. For most albino people, they have white hair, very light skin, and their eyes are usually red.
What causes albinism?
Albinism is not only a disease humans can have. Animals and plants can also have it. What causes a plant, animal or person to have albinism? They simply just cannot produce enough melanin to have a normal color. Melanin is a chemical that provides the color of skin, eyes and hair. Melanin comes from melanocytes which are cells in the bottom layer of skin. This loss of production of melanin results in loss of pigment in fur, feather, eyes, hair, skin, etc.
Symptoms of albinism
-Vision Problems: People with albinism always have problems with vision. These problems vary depending on the type of albinism the person has. Vision can range from having low vision, to being legally blind. These vision problems are caused by abnormal development of the retina and abnormal patterns between the eye and the brain. Also some albinos have red eyes which is just light reflecting from the retina. This is similar to the concept of red eyes from the flash of a picture. The presence of this problem is what clearly shows that a person has albinism, so a vision test is the only test really needed to determine if a person is albino.

Specific types of vision problems caused by albinism
  • Nystagmus
  • Strabismus
  • Photopia
  • Foveal Hypoplasia
  • Optic nerve misrouting

-Skin Problems: Most people with albinism have pale skin and/or hair color, but that does not prove that someone has albinism, even though it is common in many types of albinism. For example, Ocular albinism, which is not very common, mainly effects the eyes of the person. The skin of the someone diagnosed with Ocular albinism may still be similar to the rest of their family, just slightly fairer.

-Light Problems
: People with albinism are sensitive to light which is called photophobia. This is why some people keep their eyes slightly closed.

1 in 20,000 people have albinism


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An albino African American woman
An albino African American woman