Interesting Facts About Albinism: Let’s Stop The Myths About This Condition

Perhaps, everyone knows about albinos. Albinism is a genetic disorder characterized by the lack of an essential pigment called melanin that forms the color of the skin, hair, and the eyes. Today, this medical condition affects one in every 17,000 people.
People with albinism inherits the disorder from at least one parent. While it develops changes in the appearance of an individual, albinism does not have any adverse health effects in most cases. People with albinism are just as healthy as anyone else. They usually have hair and skin colors which are unusually light.
There are two forms of albinism: Oculocutaneous Albinism that involves the discoloration of the skin, hair, and eyes at four levels. The levels of pigmentation differ from type 1 to type 4. A mutation in a gene on the chromosome 11 causes type 1. A mutation gene on the chromosome 15 causes type 2.
A gene mutation on chromosome 9 causes type 3 and a mutation in a gene on chromosome 5 causes type 4. The pigmentation in individuals suffering from oculocutaneous albinism differs from lack of pigmentation to normal.
Ocular Albinism occurs when only eyes lose the pigment. Mutation in a gene on X chromosome causes this type of albinism. It affects men only. Individuals with ocular albinism suffer from vision impairment, their hair and skin color remains normal.
People suffering from albinism are some of the least understood on our planet. Several myths abound about them, including that they are a curse, sterile, and even that some parts of their body can serve as magical talismans. (Some uninformed individuals even believe that a kid with albinism born to a black father and mother is the ghost of the former European colonist.)
We are glad to report that none of these are factual. People with this genetic disorder are virtually identical to those without it. Of course, the significant difference results in the lack of pigmentation, although some side symptoms include higher susceptibility to the sun and vision problems – both of which are treatable. Today, we will look at interesting facts about albinism.
1. Those suffering from albinism have very little or no melanin at all. The lack of melanin, the “color pigment” is why individuals suffering from this disorder appear to have very light eyes and hair and pale skin.
2. People with albinism also tend to have different eye problems including photophobia (sensitivity to light), vision impairment (even after wearing glasses), and may even demonstrate involuntary eye movements.
3. Albinism is an untreatable condition since it is a genetic disorder. But, skin and eye problems arising due to albinism can be treated by the right approach.
4. Individuals suffering from albinism should be cautious about their skin and ensure they apply moisturizers and sunscreens routinely to keep their skin protected and healthy.
5. Although there’s a common belief that people with albinism have red or pink eyes, their irises differ in color from blue (most common) to light gray and even brown. The reddish color arises from the light reflected off the back of their eyes, the same way a camera flashes sometimes generates images with red eyes.
6. There’s a weird and wrong belief in Zimbabwe that a man with HIV AIDS needs to have sex with a woman with albinism a source of treatment of the deadly disease. In fact, this weird belief has led several HIV infections since the HIV men tend to rape the ladies with albinism.
7. Albinism isn’t contagious. It can’t be transferred from one person to another through dermal contact, blood transfusion, or via the vector (a pathogen-carrying organism such as the mosquito)
8. The first observers of Albinism were Plinius Secundus and Aulus Gellius. The oldest record of this skin disorder was in Germany and Rome.

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