25 Facts About Albinism We Might Want To Be Aware Of

People with albinism are some of the least-well understood on the planet. Plenty of myths abound about them, including that they are sterile, a curse, and even that their body parts can be used as magical talismans. (Some uninformed people even believe that a child with albinism born to a black mother and father is the ghost of a former European colonist.) We’re happy to report that none of these are true. Those with the albino disorder are virtually identical to people without it. The main difference obviously results in the lack of pigmentation, though some side symptoms include vision problems and higher susceptibility to the sun – both of which can be treated.

Though people with albinism are often teased or ridiculed, we’re here to try and change that. In this list, we dig into the scientific facts about albinism, including: Is it contagious? Do people with albinism die younger? and, what causes albinism? As a genetic condition, albinism is equivalent to having blond hair rather than brown hair. Despite the destigmatization of people with albinism which has started taking root, plenty of doubt and confusion exists around this disorder. Let’s clear that up in this list of 25 facts about Albinism we might want to be aware of.

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Albinism is a congenital (existing at or before birth) disorder caused by reduced or the complete absence of melanin: the pigment responsible for giving color to our skin, eyes, and hair. Albinism is sometimes known as hypopigmentation.

albinism singer mem nahadrSource: NHS, Image: Wikipedia

People with albinism can live long, healthy lives just as anyone else. The biggest danger comes from skin cancer which develops more easily from unprotected sun exposure.

sunburn on backSource: Encyclopedia, Image: kellysue via Flickr

While it's commonly thought people with albinism have pink or red eyes, their irises vary in color from light gray to blue (most common) and even brown. The reddish color comes from light reflected off the back of the eye, in the same way as camera flashes sometimes produce images with red eye.

BoldRedEyeSource: Encyclopedia, Image: Wikipedia

People with albinism often have one or a few eye conditions, including poor eyesight, involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), and sensitivity to light (photophobia).

B&W_girl_portrait_with_sunglassesSource: NHS, Image: Wikipedia

Herman Melville's famous book "Moby Dick" is based on a real whale with albinism known as Mocha Dick. The "white whale of the Pacific", Mocha Dick was a destructive sperm whale living near Mocha island off southern Chile who survived countless attacks from whalers and retaliated fiercely when attacked.

Moby_Dick_p510_illustrationSource: Delbanco, Andrew. Melville, His World and Work., Image: Wikipedia

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