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6 Facts about Albinism

While some people suffer from too much melanin, or hyperpigmentation, which results in dark skin pigmentation on their face and elsewhere, others suffer from little or no color pigment. Albinism occurs due to a genetic defect that hinders the body’s ability to product melanin, a natural substance that gives your skin, hair and eyes color, or pigment. Below are six facts about albinism.


1.There are 2 Main Types of Albinism

The first is caused by a genetic defect that hinders melanin production. The second type of albinism is caused by a defect specifically with the “P” gene which gives people some coloring. Both forms affect your skin pigmentation.

2.The Most Severe Form of Albinism is Oculocutaneous Albinism

In these severe cases, the individual have severe skin and vision disorders. They often have white or pink hair, eyes and skin because they lack all pigmentation. This type of albinism is less common but the most severe.

3.Genetic Testing is the Best Way to Diagnose Albinism

While it is possible to diagnose albinism through appearance, the most accurate and reliable way to test for albinism is through genetic testing, especially if you have albinism in your family history. You can also visit an ophthalmologist for an electroretinogram test to test for vision problems associated with albinism.

4.All Vertebrates are Affected by Albinism

Albinism does not just affect humans. In fact this recessive gene can affect all types of vertebrate. Some animals that suffer from albinism lose their protective camouflage and are left open to deadly predators making their survival rate very low. Other animals such as birds and reptiles often have patches of skin affected by low melanin.

5.Avoiding the Sun is the Best Skin Treatement

Since albinism makes your skin more susceptible to the UV rays from the sun, it is extremely important to reduce sunburn risk by avoiding the sun and wearing heavy sunscreen with high sun protection factor (SPF) when you do go outside. Sunglasses are also important to protect your eyes, especially if you have severe vision problems associated with the disease.

6.Albinism does not Directly Affect your Lifespan

While albinism can lead to decreased vision and a higher risk of skin cancer, it does not directly shorten your lifespan. Corrective surgery for your eyes may be needed but many albinos live a happy and healthy life. As long as you take the right precautions to protect your skin and your eyes, especially when participating in outdoor activities, you should be perfectly fine.

While albinism is a rare disease in the United States and affects less than 200,000 people, it is often more common in blacks than in whites. It is also more common in other parts of the world such as on the African continent. Nevertheless, it is important to educate yourself about the disease and to seek medical advice and attention from both your ophthalmologist and your general practitioner.

For more information on skin pigmentation click here.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.