What Happens To Untreated Ocular Albinism & When To Go To A Doctor?

Ocular albinism is a disorder of the eyes that occurs due to a genetic mutation in the genes that produce melanin. Melanin is responsible for imparting color to the skin, hair, and eyes. When melanin is not or scarcely present in the eyes (including eyelashes, eyebrows and irises), it results in ocular albinism. Ocular albinism primarily affects a person’s vision. However, in children, the eyesight may improve as they grow older.(1,3)

What Happens To Untreated Ocular Albinism?

Ocular albinism is a condition that affects the eyes. Hence, if left untreated, it can lead to serious loss of vision and a great many difficulties in school, at work, while driving and in other areas of life. It may also lead to a lot of emotional and social challenges.

Complications With The Eyes- Those affected by ocular albinism can have a serious impact on their vision. Due to this, they may face a great many difficulties, especially in learning and at work. These vision problems can also impact their ability to drive. It is extremely difficult to secure a driving license under such circumstances and is quite dangerous too.(2)

Complications Related To Emotional And Social Challenges- Those affected by albinism may face discrimination from some people. This can lead to a permanent or a long-lasting negative impact on their mental health. They may also face multiple questions about their appearance, teasing etc. they may look different from other family members. Thus, they may feel like outsiders. This can lead to a loss of confidence and social isolation. This can also give rise to a high-stress level. The terms used to describe their condition can lead to social stigma.(2)

When To Go To A Doctor For Ocular Albinism?

When the child is born, the attending doctor may notice a lack of pigmentation in the child’s hair, which includes the hair of eyelashes and eyebrows. He/she may then order for an eye test and a thorough eye checkup and keep a close eye on other changes related to the pigmentation and vision of the child.

If you notice any of the signs and symptoms of albinism in your child, you must consult with your doctor immediately.

Also, if your child is affected by ocular albinism and experiences often nosebleeds, chronic infections, easy bruising, etc. it is necessary to contact your doctor urgently. These signs and symptoms can be suggestive of some far more serious complications that are related to albinism.(2)

Indications of albinism are generally seen in a person’s skin, hair and color of the eyes. In ocular albinism, these indications are usually restricted to the eyes. Those with ocular albinism may have-

  • Pale eyelashes and eyebrows
  • Eye color ranging from extremely light blue to brown
  • Eye color changing with age
  • Translucent-looking irises, due to the lack of pigment in the colored part of the eye. This is because iris cannot fully block the light entering into the eyes
  • Red-looking eyes in some lighting, if they are extremely pale already
  • Vision impairment as a primary factor
  • Nystagmus or rapid and involuntary movement of eyes
  • Jerky or abrupt head movements in an attempt to see better in case of nystagmus
  • Strabismus or eyes cannot focus at the same point or in unison
  • Severe farsightedness or nearsightedness
  • Photophobia or sensitivity to light
  • Astigmatism or unusual curvature of the lens or front surface of the eye
  • Optic nerve misrouting
  • Weak perception of depth complete blindness or legal blindness- meaning vision less than 20/200(2)

Conclusion

Untreated ocular albinism can lead to many serious complications related to vision. When treated promptly and efficiently, it can reduce the degree of further vision impairment and damage to the vision can be significantly reduced.

References:

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