Albinism is a rare genetic condition that hinders the body’s ability to produce and utilize melanin, a dark pigment that determines the color of your hair, skin and eyes.
What many don’t realize is that albinism can sometimes only affect the eyes, a condition called ocular albinism, which often greatly impairs vision.
At Low Vision of Arizona in Gilbert, we provide low vision aids and devices to patients of all ages with ocular albinism to help them live their lives to the fullest.
What is Ocular Albinism?
Ocular albinism occurs when the structures within the eye lack the necessary pigmentation for normal vision. A person with ocular albinism will have little or no pigmentation in their iris (the colored part of the eye), and the retina (the light-sensitive inner lining at the back of the eye). Their eyes appear very light gray or blue.
Type 1, also called Nettleship-Falls, is the most common form of ocular albinism.
Reduced pigmentation in the eye can affect vision in several ways, and many individuals with ocular albinism are legally blind.
How Does Ocular Albinism Impact Vision?
Ocular albinism negatively affects vision in the following ways:
- Photophobia — Sensitivity to light. More light enters the eye than normal, due to the lack of pigmentation in the iris that blocks or filters light. The discomfort and pain caused by glare and brightness often cause a person with albinism to close their eyes or blink frequently whenever outdoors. For this reason, individuals with ocular albinism should wear sunglasses as soon as they go outdoors or enter brightly lit spaces.
- Nystagmus — Rapid and involuntary jerky eye movements, either up and down or side to side. These eye movements can lead to atypical head positioning, which reduces the amount of jerky eye movements.
- Refractive errors — Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. This can reduce the patient’s ability to see fine detail, both near and far.
- Monocular vision — Ocular albinism affects a person’s ability to combine the perceived images from both eyes into a single image. This causes the brain to “switch off” one eye, resulting in a lazy eye and poor depth perception..
- Low vision — A visual acuity of 20/70 or worse that can’t be further improved with eyeglasses, medication or surgery.
Low Vision Aids for Ocular Albinism
While there isn’t yet a cure for ocular albinism, low vision aids maximize usable vision and facilitate more independence and a higher quality of life.
Patients of all ages can benefit from a wide range of low vision aids and devices that make it easier to see up close, far away, and in between.
How Low Vision of Arizona Can Help
Our caring and professional eye care staff at Low Vision of Arizona are passionate about helping patients do the things they love to do, no matter what ocular condition they have.
To schedule a low vision consultation and see the world in a new light, call Low Vision of Arizona in Gilbert today.