Albinism is a genetic condition caused by mutations of certain genes that affect the amount of melanin that one’s body produces.
For people living with albinism, their bodies are unable to make a normal amount of melanin, the substance that is responsible for eye, skin, and hair color. So most people with albinism have very pale skin, hair, and eyes.
Albinism is a genetic condition that people are born with. It is not a disease, it is neither contagious nor can it be spread.
People with Albinism often have to protect themselves against sunlight and are prone to skin conditions such as skin cancer. They also often have low vision and will need glasses for reading in combination with large print.
HOW TO REFER TO SOMEONE WITH ALBINISM
The word “albino” comes from the Latin word “albus,” meaning white. While people with albinism are sometimes called albinos, this can be taken as derogatory. It is preferred to say a “person with albinism”.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ALBINISM
Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA): This is the most common type of albinism. People with OCA have extremely pale hair, skin and eyes. There are seven different subtypes of OCA, caused by mutations in one of seven genes (OCA1 to OCA7).
Ocular albinism (OA): Ocular albinism is not as common as OCA. Ocular albinism affects only one’s eyes – usually presenting as blue eyes though in some cases may appear pale, red or pink. Skin and hair color are usually normal.
Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome (HPS): Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome is a type of albinism that includes a form of oculocutaneous albinism that includes a range of blood disorders, bruising conditions and lung, kidney or bowel diseases.
Chediak-Higashi syndrome: Chediak-Higashi syndrome is a type of albinism that includes a form of oculocutaneous albinism along with immune and neurological conditions.