Ocular albinism

Ocular albinism is a rare genetic condition that affects eye pigmentation and abnormally develops the retina and optic nerve.  In this article, we will discuss precisely what this pathology is, the examinations to detect it, the visual disorders and risks associated with it and finally, the existing treatments.

ocular albinism

What is

ocular albinism ?

Ocular albinism is a rare genetic disorder that mainly affects the eyes. It is a genetic abnormality that alters the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for hair, skin and eye color. 

This condition leads to significant visual impairment in affected individuals. One of the main features is hypopigmentation, which is the absence or lack of pigmentation in the eye tissues. 

This gives the eyes an often very clear, even pink coloration. Because of this hypopigmentation, the eyes are also more sensitive to light, which can cause discomfort and a burning sensation.

What visual disorders are

related to ocular albinism ?

Visual acuity is usually reduced in people with ocular albinism.

People with vision problems such as:



These refractive problems are caused by abnormalities in the shape of the cornea or lens, the eye structures responsible for focusing images on the retina.


In addition to refractive problems, albinism can cause other eye abnormalities that can contribute to double or blurred vision:


  • strabism, which is a misalignment of the eyes ;
  • nystagmus, which is an involuntary movement of the eyes. 


Ocular albinism can also manifest as damage to the retina, such as albinotic retinopathy, which is a progressive degeneration of the retina.

This condition can lead to more severe vision loss and sometimes even partial blindness, hence the need for regular ophthalmological follow-up.

How to diagnose ocular albinism ?

It is important to diagnose ocular albinism at an early age, with an eye exam performed by a pediatric ophthalmologist, such as Dr. Stephanie Zwillinger. It can then detect the ocular abnormalities characteristic of this disease. 


Our COP9 team of orthoptists performs a comprehensive ophthalmological examination to evaluate several aspects of vision and ocular structure.


The issue of family medical history is an important point in the diagnosis. Since ocular albinism is an inherited condition, it is important to determine if other family members have it.


A refractive examination can determine if the patient has vision disorders (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism). These refractive conditions may be present in addition to ocular albinism and may contribute to vision problems. 


Another commonly used method for diagnosing ocular albinism is fluorescein angiography. This test visualizes the blood vessels of the retina using a dye. It can help identify possible vascular abnormalities associated with ocular albinism. 

In some cases, an ocular ultrasound may be performed to assess the posterior segment of the eye, including the retina and optic nerve. This can help detect possible structural abnormalities.

Early detection allows visual disturbances to be managed appropriately, with visual corrections such as:

  • corrective lenses;
  • contact lenses;
  • in some cases, intraocular implants

Even though there is no cure, there are various steps that can be taken to improve the quality of life of those affected.

This may include: 

  • surgical procedures to correct strabismus or retinal detachment;
  • visual rehabilitation to help strengthen the visual system;
  • regular consultations with the ophthalmologist to monitor the evolution of the disease;

specific tips to protect light-sensitive eyes.

How to

treat ocular albinism ?

In conclusion

To conclude this article, we remind you that ocular albinism is a rare genetic disease that mainly affects the eyes. It is characterized by ocular hypopigmentation, refractive problems, retinal damage and other visual abnormalities. 

Early detection and adequate management can help improve the vision and quality of life of those affected. We remind you that it is essential to regularly consult an ophthalmologist to properly monitor this eye condition!

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