It is a rare group of genetic disorders that cause the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color. Albinism is also associated with vision problems. According to the National Organization for Albinism and hypo-pigmentation, about 1 in 18,000 to 20,000 people in the United States have a form of albinism.

Albinism is an inherited disorder that’s present at birth. Children are at risk of being born with albinism if they have parents with albinism, or parents who carry the gene for albinism.


People with albinism will have the following symptoms:

  • An absence of color in the hair, skin, or eyes;
  • Lighter than normal coloring of the hair, skin, or eyes; and
  • Patches of skin that have an absence of color.

Albinism occurs with vision problems, which may include:

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes);
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light);
  • Nystagmus (involuntary rapid eye movements); and
  • Impaired vision or blindness
  • Astigmatism.


The most accurate way to diagnose albinism is through genetic testing to detect defective genes related to albinism. Less accurate ways of detecting albinism include an evaluation of symptoms by your doctor or an electroretinogram test. This test measures the response of the light-sensitive cells in the eyes to reveal eye problems associated with albinism.


There’s no cure for albinism. However, treatment can relieve symptoms and prevent sun damage. Treatment may include:

  • Sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (Uv) rays;
  • Protective clothing and sunscreen to protect the skin from Uv rays;
  • Prescription eyeglasses to correct vision problems; and
  • Surgery on the muscles of the eyes to correct abnormal eye movements.

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