Ocular Albinism type 1


A rare eye disorder characterized primarily by lack of eye pigmentation. Females tend to have few if any symptoms as the condition is X-linked.


* Mottled skin * Pigmented nevi * Freckles * Rapid involuntary eye movements * Sensitivity to light


It's not always easy to diagnose the exact type of albinism a person has; there are two tests available that can identify only two types of the condition. Recently, a blood test has been developed that can identify carriers of the gene for some types of albinism; a similar test during amniocentesis can diagnose some types of albinism in an unborn child. A chorionic villus sampling test during the fifth week of pregnancy may also reveal some types of albinism. The specific type of albinism a person has can be determined by taking a good family history and examining the patient and several close relatives. The "hairbulb pigmentation test" is used to identify carriers by incubating a piece of the person's hair in a solution of tyrosine, a substance in food which the body uses to make melanin. If the hair turns dark, it means the hair is making melanin (a "positive" test); light hair means there is no melanin. This test is the source of the names of two types of albinism: "ty-pos" and "ty-neg."


There is no treatment that can replace the lack of melanin that causes the symptoms of albinism. Doctors can only treat, not cure, the eye problems that often accompany the lack of skin color. Glasses are usually needed and can be tinted to ease pain from too much sunlight. There is no cure for involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), and treatments for focusing problems (surgery or contact lenses) are not effective in all cases.