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by: Carmine Vincifora
is a defect that results in little or no color (pigment) in the skin, hair , and eyes. Albinism can affect humans, plants, animals, and other organisms. Albinism is also called achromia, achromasia, or achromatosis. The term used to refer an organism affected by albinsim is "albino". .
The first reported case of alinism was in 1908. The oldest records of albinism are found in Rome and Germany. The first observers of albinism were known as Aulus Gellius and Plinius Secundus the Elder. The first person to consider albino as a sickness was Archibald Garrod. He did research on it in 1908 and observed it. There is no "cure" to albinism, but measures can be taken to relieve syptoms. Some famous people with albinism are; Emperor Seinei of Japan, Actor/Comedian Victor Varnado, and more. Some famous animals with albinism are; Bristol Zoo Penguin, Migaloo (Humpback whale off the coast of Australia), and more.
Albinism is caused by genetic mutations that affect the production of a pigment called melanin. A cell called the melanocyte is responsible for giving skin, hair, and eyes pigmentation. In albinism, the cell is present, but genetic mutations interfere with the pigment production and/or their ability to distribute it to kerationcytes(the major cell type comprising the epidermis/outer layer of skin). There are currently 5 different types of albinism which are organized into two main categories.
Oculocutaneous Albinism (Types 1-4 with different pigmentation levels) - In this type of albinism, pigment is lacking in the eyes, skin and hair (for animals is fur/scales/feathers etc.). In this category, people can have almost normal pigmentation to no pigmentation.
Ocular Albinism - This type of albinism only lacks eye pigment. People with this type of albinism typically have normal skin and hair color. Many also have a normal eye appearance. This albinism is generally sex linked, and males are more likely to be affected. Males are without another x chromosome to mask recessive alleles on the X then in herit.
Humans with albinism appear white (or very pale). In some cases the eyes can appear to be red or purple. Some other symptoms are absence of color in the hair, skin, or iris of the eye. Other symptoms are patches of skin missing color. Most forms of albinism can be associated with other symptoms. Some of the symptoms associated with albinism are cross eyes, light sensitivity, rapid eye movements, and some other visual problems. Albinism can also be diagnosed by genetic testing.
There are some treatments out there to help people with albinism. The treaments are aimed to ease the symptoms depending on the severity of the disorder. Most of the treatments for albinism are for the eyes. People with albinism can under go viual rehabilitation. There are also many optical aids such as glasses/bifocal glasses. There is also eye muscle surgery available to reduce the movement of the eyes but it may not improve vision. People with albinism can also get dark glasses to protect their eyes from bright light. Another thing that can be done that's not related to eyes, is putting on sun screen to protect the individuals skin.
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