Albinism is an incurable and rare genetic disease, caused by an inherited abnormality involving the pigment melanin. It is characterized by a partial or total lack of melanin. The result is a depigmentation of hair, body hair, nails, eyes and skin. An albino child is frequently subject to:
- Poor vision,
- a high susceptibility to cancers and skin conditions due to a weak protection against sunlight.
Albinism is characterized by a general depigmentation, namely:
- eyes that are pink, red or purple;
- Translucent blue or gray reflections of the iris;
- depigmented retina;
- white hair and body hair;
- discolored skin.
An albino child is always nearsighted and medical correction provides little improvement. Complications of albinism are caused by exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation, as the skin is not protected because of the lack of pigmentation. UV rays are also dangerous for the eyes of an albino person.
Albinism is easily diagnosed in a child with dark skin. The cutaneous form may at first go unnoticed in a white child, but the peculiar gray tint of eyelashes, eyebrows and hair makes it possible to confirm the existence of the disease in a newborn. A diagnosis must also be made to determine the type of albinism, namely:
- congenital ocular albinism, affecting only the eyes;
- oculocutaneous albinism, affecting both skin and eyes.
There is no treatment against albinism. However, the albino child must be sure to use high protection against UV rays, such as:
- applying specific sunblock creams for the skin;
- wearing a hat,
- wearing goggles with dark lenses.
Despite these precautions, protection is not always optimal, and the albino child is greatly exposed to the risk of developing skin cancer.
There is no way to prevent the occurrence of the disease: albinism is genetic.