Albino People Albinism in Humans
Albinism is derived from the Latin word albus which means white. Also known as achromasia, achromatosis or achromia, albinism is a congenital disorder that comes with either partial or complete nonexistence of skin, eyes and hair pigmentation because of lack or flaw of an enzyme in the middle of melanin production.
Albinism is a disorder caused by recessive gene alleles inheritance and can involve all vertebrates including as humans. As a matter of fact, there is one albino in 17,000 people according to a research. Regular individuals produce melanin without fail, which is a photoprotective pigment. The main role of melanin is to protect us from ultraviolet light but this is also needed for the development of the brain and retina.
Recessive genes are present in one out of 70 people. If carried by both parents, children will almost certainly be albinos.
What Makes Albino People Different?
The obvious part of being an albino is the appearance. Individuals with albinism disorder have light to white hair, gray to blue eyes and very light skin color. It is noticeable that most parents of the albinos have normal eye color and hair as well as no family history involving such condition. In reality, albinism affects persons of various ethnicity, religion and nation.
Most people believe that albinos have red eyes. Since they lack melanin, there is a reddish tinge on the highly vascular pupil when exposed to light. In addition to that, visual defects are present with albinism. There are even some that are legally blind. Albinism affects the nerve pattern development that takes place between the brain and the eye. Other visual defects include involuntary eye movements or Nystagmus and light sensitivity or photophobia.
The primary challenge of being an albino is low vision which will ultimately affect education particularly reading, socialization where they are often not accepted by their peers and inability to participate in sports events. Mobility is also a common problem as they do not have good eyesight to guide them as they walk around. Nevertheless, such obstacles can be prevailed over through the use of adaptive aids and technology including bioptic lenses, which could even help albinos acquire drivers license.
It is without question that an albino looks totally different from a normal person. However, not all persons with this kind of genetic condition have light hair and eyes. There are actually two types of albinos. The first one is the ocular albinism, which apparently means that this only affects the eyes. On the other hand, oculocutaneous albinism involves both the skin and the eyes. While it has been confirmed that albinism gene is acquired from both parents, there is one form of ocular albinism that is passed on directly from a mother to her son.
In general, these individuals have slate gray or blue eyes. But there are some with greater levels of pigmentation that have hazel or green eyes. Those that have lesser amounts of pigment usually have reddish eye color. They do not have the capacity to block out light. In this case, when you take a picture of an albino, the light of the flash will be reflected off of the rear end of the eyes, making them appear as if they have the photographic red eye.
Aside from Nystagmus, some of the albino people have crossed or wall eyes. They also have decreased acuity ranging from 20/60 to 20/400. While low vision is a major problem, there are other issues that they face such as bleeding problems resulting from platelets malfunctioning. Their platelets do not have sufficient dense bodies, which mean that they cannot stay clumped together.
Traits and Characteristics of Albino People
Albinism in popular culture depicts negativity against them. This is why there is the term albino bias or the evil albino plot device. In films, there are evil albinos forming an organization which will bring destruction. They are villains displaying physical traits that are linked with albinism even though albinism is not used more often than not. Obviously, the albino bad guys are distinguished quite easily by means of the appearance including pale skin, pink to red or blue eyes, platinum blonde hair and other common albino traits. Nevertheless, it is notable that these villains do not have impaired vision, which is experienced by almost all albinos.
Though this is what films have portrayed about them, albinism supporters assert this as largely negative with concerns about discrimination and societal prejudice. In reality, albinos are just like normal people. There is no way that albinism affects the emotional characteristics of a person. Such can be greatly influenced by how the child was raised by his or her family and how he or she is being treated in school and by his peers.
Nevertheless, people with albinism disorder often feel isolated due to the condition that is frequently misunderstood by most individuals. Social stigmatization may happen specifically within communities where color is involved or where paternity of people may be questioned.
Famous People with Albinism
The albino stereotype has been well recognized sufficiently when characters in movies have been presented with albinism. The Matrix Reloaded and The Da Vinci Code are just of the few films that featured Albinism in Movies. However, there are actually real people with this condition and some of the most notable ones include:
Michael Bowman He is an American actor popular for his performance in Me, Myself and Irene alongside Jim Carrey. He played the role of Whitey.
Salum Khalfhani Barwani He is a Tanzanian politician. On November 2, 2010, he was elected to the National Assembly of Tanzania and was the first albino to be ever elected in the country.
Connie Chiu is the first known albino to become a model. She was born in Hong Kong but they moved to Sweden to protect her photosensitive eyes
William Archibald Spooner is an Anglican priest and was a very famous Oxford don. He is best known for spoonerism which is a linguistic phenomenon named after him.
David Wrench is an electronic musician and is also a sound engineer from Wales. Wrench is popular for being a multi-instrumentalist which he has showcased in hi first solo album entitled Blow Winds Blow.
While the above mentioned people are confirmed to be albinistic, there are some who had been mistaken to carry the condition. This included Roy Orbison who was accused as such by his widow without known reasons. Another is Anthony Rapp who is an actor and the lead of a band. Rapp is actually just a naturally pigmented Caucasian.
Myths About Albino People
A lot of myths have surrounded the albino community including the one mentioned before that they normally have behavioral issues as they are portrayed in films. However, some of the myths have not only embarrassed them but also made them social outcasts. One of the most common misconceptions about them is that they are a member of species that are sterile. The truth is they are actually capable of reproduction.
Jamaican people with albinism are thought to be cursed which is why they are often degraded. IN other parts of the world such as in Zimbabwe, women with albinism are thought to have the ability to cure HIV, causing many females to be raped in the area. Meanwhile, there are some places in which albino people are considered to possess magical powers as well as having the ability to tell the future. According to some myths, albinos do not have a chance to live a long life but this is not true. In numerous areas, their condition is regarded as contagious, resulting to having many of other people in their community to stay away from them.
Science and Genetics behind Albinism
Ocular albinism type 1 is the most common type of the ocular albinism disorder which can affect at least one person out of 60,000 males. This is less common in women and has been known to come about when GPR143 genes mutate. Such gene is responsible for instructing the production of protein which plays a role inn the skin and eyes.
This type of albinism is inherited through an X-linked pattern. What this means is that the mutated gene can be found on the X-chromosome. Males have only one X-chromosome but one altered production of the GPR143 gene is enough to cause albinism. And because females have two X-chromosomes, it is quite rare for them to develop such mutation. However, this does not mean that this is not possible. Still, women will not experience loss of vision or any other eye abnormalities. Rather there are mild retinal pigmentation changes which can be detected if they go through an eye exam.
The other type of albinism which is oculocutaneous albinism can be found in one of 20,000 persons around the world. This condition can often be found in ethnic groups as well as in geographical regions. Oculocutaneous albinism has two types 1 and 2 while 3 and 4 are not very common.
African Americans, Native Americans and those that are from the sub-Saharan Africa might get type 2. Type 3 can be found in people from Southern Africa while type 4 often occurs in Korean and Japanese people. The genes that are involved here are TYR, SLC45A2, TYRP1 and OCA2. However, the four types of this form of albinism come from single gene mutation. For instance, TYR causes type 1 if the mentioned gene is changed. Meanwhile OCA2 genes are held responsible for type 2.
Children inherit albinism. Clearly it is not their choice. They are not ought to be treated indifferently and should always be guided by teachers and most especially their parents. Becoming aware of what this congenital disorder is will allow one person to fully understand that albinism is not a weakness nor is it a contagious disease.
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