How can Albinism affect vision?

Albinism is a group of pigmentation related conditions that can also affect your vision. Ocular Albinism can significantly affect vision and in this article we will look at what exactly it can mean to it.


What is Ocular Albinism?

Albinism is a genetic condition which affects the levels of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes of an individual. Ocular Albinism does not affect the skin and hair to a significant degree, unlike other types of Albinism. When it comes to your vision, it causes deformation in the retina and the pigmentation of the iris of the eye.

People with Ocular Albinism can be considered legally blind and glasses can do very little in order to help them out, but can be effective against other symptoms accompanying it. This condition however does not progress, so any vision loss from it, while permanent is constant and will not worsen.


What are the symptoms of Ocular Albinism?

This condition can have many symptoms, but one definite one is the severely impaired visual acuity. Other symptoms can be:

Discoloration of the eyes is another common symptom. Sometimes the eyes can appear red under light as it will reflect from blood vessels inside the eye due to insufficient pigmentation.

Nystagmus and Strabismus are two other conditions that can signal that there is something wrong. Involuntary eye movements or poor eye control can prove additional challenge to an individual.

High sensitivity to light and glare is another problem that people with this condition will experience.

Nearsightedness and farsightedness, possibly accompanied by astigmatism, can also accompany Ocular Albinism.


Who gets affected by Ocular Albinism?

This condition is far more common in males than in females. Ocular Albinism is inherited and it requires two copies of the bad gene to be passed down to a female offspring. If both parents are healthy, a female offspring will be a carrier at worse, since the father will surely be passing down a healthy X chromosome. However if the father has this condition and the mother also passes down the bad gene, the female offspring will have the condition too.

However when it comes to a male offspring, whether the kid will have the condition, depends entirely on what x chromosome the mother will pass down. So if the mother has one bad and one healthy X chromosome and the offspring is male, there is a 50 % chance the child will have the condition, since the mother is the only one who will pass down an X chromosome to a male offspring.


How do you treat Ocular Albinism?

While there is no cure for this condition a lot of the symptoms can be treated. Two of the symptoms that can receive treatment are Nystagmus and Strabismus. They can be corrected by training the eye, with visual aids or eventually surgical intervention if they do not improve by themselves.

The sensitivity to light can be corrected to a degree with proper sunglasses and lenses. Going out without either can be painful depending on the level of pigment deficiency.

Visual aids can also help for the loss of vision resulting from the condition. There are plenty of powerful magnifiers that can improve vision significantly and allow people affected by this condition still perform daily tasks properly.

While Ocular Albinism sounds scary, it is possible to lead a relatively normal life. There is also a possibility of having a driver's license in some places in the world, provided your doctor deems you can go for it and you have the will to do it.