The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Background: Inherited Conditions; The Plight of Africa’s Albinos.

Posted by 19sevenseven on October 14, 2008

The word “albinism” refers to a group of inherited conditions. People with Albinism have little or no pigment in their eyes, skin or hair. They have inherited altered genes that do not make the usual amounts of a pigment called melanin. Albinism affects people from all races. Most children with alninism are born to parents who have normal hair and eye color for their ethnic backgrounds.  Sometimes people so not recognise that they have albinism, a common myth is that people with alninism have red eyes. In fact there are different types of albinism and the amoun of pigment in the eyes varies. Although some individuals with albinism have reddish or violet eyes, most have blue eyes.  Whatever the eye color, all Albinos have associated vision problems.

 Vision Problems:

People with Albinism always have problems with their vision which are not correctable, and many have low vision. The degree of vision impairment varies with the different types of Albinism and many people with Albinism are legally blind, yet can read, and do not require Braille. Some people with albinism have sufficient vision to drive a car. Vision problems in albinism result from the abnormal development of the retinal and abnormal patterns of nerve connections between the eye and the brain. It is the presence of these eye problems that defines the diagnosis of albinism. Therefore the main test for albinism is an eye exam.

 Medical Problems:

In the Western world, most people with Albinism live normal life spans, and have the same type of medical problems as the rest of the population.  In tropical countries, those who do not use skin protection may develop life-threatening skin cancers, and if they use skin protection, sich as sunscreens with an SPF of 20 or higher and wear opaque clothing, people with albinism can enjoy the outdoors even in summer.

People with albinism are at risk of isolation because of their condition is often misunderstood. Social stigmatization can occur, especially within communities of color, where the race or paternity of a person with albinism may be questioned. Families and schools MUST make a effort not to exclude children with albinism from groups. Contact between Albinos is of the utmost importance.  And there are a number of website with links to social networking opportunities.

For more information, click here. (Main article)

 By Quinn Gormley

quinngormley@yahoo.co.uk

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