Does Ocular Albinism Cause Red Eyes & What To Do About It?

Albinism is an autosomal disorder, one of the oldest recorded genetic disorders ever examined. It is manifested at birth where a person completely lacks or partially lacks melanin with evidence of dull eye pigmentation.

The incidence ratio of albinism in Nigeria is rated amongst the top in the humankind with an approximate number of over 1.5 million albinos living in the nation. OCA2, tyrosine-positive is the most prevalent type found throughout Africa. This is due to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation exposure.

Does Ocular Albinism Cause Red Eyes?

Does Ocular Albinism Cause Red Eyes?

There is a common perception that individuals suffering from albinism have red eyes. While mild factors can allow the blood vessels at the hind part of the retina to be visible, which can cause the eyes to appear reddish or violet, several individuals with albinism (albinos) have blue eyes, and few have hazel or brown pupil. However, the blood vessels in the interior can reveal via the colored part and the eyes and can appear pink or red.

There are varied forms of ocular albinism and the levels of coloration in the eyes differ. The iris gives color to the eyes, the primary function of the iris is to limit the amount of light entering the eye, for instance, the coloration makes the iris opaque so as to enable reduced sensitivity to the light. Nevertheless, vision challenges are often related to albinism.1

Other eye symptoms include:

Nystagmus: Quick eye movements where you can’t control them. The eyes move rapidly side to side, up and down, or in a ring. It occurs when the part of the brain or inner ear that regulates eye movement and positioning doesn’t function correctly. Most children outgrow the condition as they grow older.

Photophobia, Or Light Sensitivity Intolerance – Sources related to light (sunlight, fluorescent light, and incandescent light) can cause huge discomfort. The iris is more sensitive to light because the iris doesn’t have adequate pigmentation to shield the retina. Wearing sunglasses or tinted contact lenses, staying out of sunlight and keeping the lights dimmed inside can help to be more comfortable.

Problems With Depth Perception- Ocular albinism is illustrated by seriously decreased clarity of vision (visual acuity) and difficulties with the ability of the visual neurons to convey a sense of three-dimensional model and structure from the visual responses (stereoscopic vision)

Eyes That Look In Different Directions- This condition also referred to as strabismus in which your muscles do not work together and your eye points to different directions.

Crossed Eyes Or A “Lazy Eye“- Ocular albinism often result in muscle imbalance of the eyes.2,3

What To Do About Ocular Albinism?

No specific medical treatment is available but there are a number of measures that can be taken to improve your patient’s visual function and to educate him on the importance of protection from sun damage. Support includes vision correction, support groups, and low vision aids.

Refractive errors should be corrected, and some patients benefit from bifocal lenses, transition lenses, or special filter glasses that can relieve hypersensitivity to light. If visual acuity is seriously decreased, these albinos can be assisted with telescopic and other low-vision mechanisms.

Schulze Schwering et al the described progress of visual acuity with an appropriate refraction in albinos with ocular albinism. They noticed the most progress in albinos with minor to normal myopia, while the patients with greater than +1

Low vision aids, like eSight, help people with central vision loss to see and live independently. The latest technology makes use of cameras, cool procedures and high-resolution displays to generate obvious, real-time views of objects right in front of the user.4,5

References:

  1. What is Albinism? | National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation https://www.albinism.org/information-bulletin-what-is-albinism/
  2. How Ocular Albinism Affects the Eyes – WebMD https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/what-is-ocular-albinism#1
  3. Albinism (for Teens) – Nemours KidsHealth https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/albinism.html
  4. Understanding Ocular Albinism https://esighteyewear.com/understanding-ocular-albinism/
  5. Ocular Manifestations of Albinism Treatment & Management https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1216066-treatment

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