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Albinism is an inherited condition. It affects the eyes and skin of some individuals, and only the eyes of others. It results from the body's inability to produce normal amounts of a pigment called melanin.

There are different types of albinism. Oculocutaneous albinism -  both the skin and eyes are affected and can present with varying degrees of pigmentation. Some children have white hair, little or no pigment in the skin, pale coloured eyes, and significant vision impairment. Others with more pigment may have red-brown hair, some skin colour, blue or brown eyes, and less severe vision impairment.

Ocular albinism - children have vision impairment, but the hair and skin are normal or near-normal in colour.

People with Albinism may experience the following visual difficulties:

  • Reduced Visual Acuity. 
  • Light sensitivity (Photophobia) 
  • Rapid eye movements (Nystagmus)
  • Misaligned eyes (Strabismus)

Children may have difficulty recognizing faces and facial expressions, accessing information from a distance, identifying small images or letters on paper, and recognizing details.

Children may benefit from increased contrast of the environment and increased contrast of print by using a CCTV or screen-magnification software. Children may also benefit from assistive technology to more easily use the computer and to utilize techniques and accommodations to perform activities with limited vision.

Because extra light enters the eyes of children with albinism, they are sensitive to bright light and glare. In addition to having difficulty with outdoor reading (street and store signs, for example) or indoor reading when bright window light or glare is present, a child will likely have difficulty traveling outdoors in the bright sunlight. Their environment may appear all white or lack contrast and using the eyes in such an environment will cause strain and discomfort. Tinted eyeglasses and use of a brimmed hat will provide some relief to the eyes. Additionally, the child may need help and instruction on using a cane (to refrain from bumping into obstacles) and public transportation (particularly when eyesight is poor enough to limit future driving).

If nystagmus, involuntary and repetitively darting of the eyes, is present, your child may or may not have additional vision issues. If a functional vision issue is present, it will likely be reduced visual acuity (blurrier vision, sometimes correctable with prescription glasses/bifocals); issues with balance (eased with use of a support cane); and most commonly, difficulty keeping place when reading. Use of a reading guide will help a child maintain his or her place.

Children with albinism may need some form of visual aid, depending on the type and extent of the visual condition. Glasses or contact lenses can correct for short or long sightedness or astigmatism.

Older children may need a monocular for distance viewing and some may need large print or a magnifier for reading.

If strabismus, misaligned eyes caused from muscle imbalances, is present, your child will have initial double vision and/or issues with depth perception. Use of a cane becomes important to detecting drop-offs and uneven ground when walking.

Many people with albinism find that video magnifiers enable them to enjoy the activities of work, school, and their personal lives. By adjusting the contrast on the video magnifiers, they can use a magnified view without discomfort or fatigue. Our range of video magnifiers have easy contrast adjustments.

Desktop CCTVs Video Magnifiers allow you to read magazines and letters, view family photos, write checks, or engage in your favourite hobby, all in the comfort of your home or office.

Electronic Handheld Video Magnifiers  can slip comfortably into a pocket or purse, giving you easy access to photos, letters, menus, prescription labels, and so much more, wherever you go.

Portable Video Magnifiers move from school to home to the office to help you see the board, read your assignments, take notes, do crafts, or to read, write, and view business presentations.

Scanners and OCR (Text-to-Speech) Optical character recognition (OCR) devices provide people who are blind or visually impaired with the ability to scan printed text and then have it converted into audible speech. You can now enjoy a choice of high quality naturally sounding voices, and many in an attractive portable design. Simply switch-on, scan your printed reading material and start listening in an instant.

Screen Magnification Software provides screen magnification and screen reading for low vision computer users.

Buzz Clip - The BuzzClip is a small and discreet device for people living with blindness or partial sight.The device uses ultrasound to detect obstacles that may lie directly in one's path. It then notifies the user of these obstacles through intuitive vibrations, allowing the user to safely navigate around any objects that they may encounter.

The BuzzClip offers essential head level obstacle detection and can be easily held or attached to many forms of clothing, making it a highly versatile and useful device. It is an extremely practical mobility tool that can reduce fears of travelling as it provides a reliable way to inform a user of their immediate surroundings and prevent collisions.

Pacific Vision International is proud to be associated with Albanism NZ . 

Albinism NZ is a voluntary not for profit group dedicated to New Zealanders with Albinism. For more information about Albanism visit their website at ALBINISM NZ

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.