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Ocular Albinism

Albinism is a genetic disease where there is little or no pigment, known as melanin, in the eyes, hair and skin. Ocular albinism is also an inherited condition where the eye is primarily affected. A person with ocular albinism can often have "normal toned" hair and skin. The amount of pigment in the eye of a person with ocular albinism varies. Some people with this condition can even have hazel or brown eyes.

Vision problems associated with this condition are the result of abnormal development in the retina and abnormal patterns of nerve connections between the eye and the brain.

What is it like to have ocular albinism?

Unfortunately, people with albinism always have problems with their vision. The lack of pigment in the eyes can cause nearsightedness, farsightnedness, astigmatism, nystagmus (involuntary movement of the eye), strabismus (crossed-eyes) and sensitivity to light.

How is ocular albinism treated?

Glasses can be prescribed for reduced visual acuity. The appearance of strabismus may be improved by surgery; however, surgery will not correct the misrouting of nerves from the eyes to the brain, and will not provide fine binocular vision. For people with sensitivity to light, sunglasses or tinted contact lenses can be worn.

Patients should consult with an ophthalmologist who can provide the appropriate level of care necessary. If you wish to inquire about pediatric ophthalmic services and orthoptics, please call (212) 979-4375 for a medical referral or to receive additional information.

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