Ocular albinism is a genetic condition that primarily affects the eyes. This condition reduces the coloring (pigmentation) of the iris, which is the colored part of the eye, and the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Pigmentation in the eye is essential for normal vision.
Ocular albinism is an inherited disorder.
The features of ocular albinism include reduced visual acuity, nystagmus (rapid movement of the eyes back and forth), squint, and sensitivity to bright light. The reduced visual acuity may result in difficulty at school, such as trouble reading what is on a blackboard, except when the reading material is held very close, and difficulty with sports, particularly with small projectile objects.
In general, as children with ocular albinism mature, their visual acuity seems to improve. Part of this improvement may be progressive maturation of the nerve pathways in the brain. Some of this, of course, is the maturation of the infant or child to understand the task of visual acuity, reading letters, and recognizing figures on a screen. However, there is no evidence that OA is degenerative, and most adolescents and young adults maintain vision throughout life. Individuals with OA never go completely blind from this disorder, although they may be legally blind.
Special Low-vision aids like telescopic lenses mounted on glasses (bioptics) are prescribed for close-up work and distance vision.
The use of Braille is not necessary as children with albinism read the dots visually. Tinted glasses may be used to reduce photophobia. Some patients do not like tinted lenses; they may benefit from wearing a cap or visor when outdoors. Even contact lenses are given for vision correction which also decreases the nystagmus.