Ocular albinism is characterised by a lack of pigment cells (melanin) in the iris and retina that normally help protect the eye from ultraviolet radiation and provide protection against the development of cancerous cells.
Ocular albinism is a sex-linked inherited disorder that is passed on via the X chromosome. Consequently, it occurs mainly in males, while females are carriers.
Unlike normal albinism that affects the skin and hair, ocular albinism primarily involves the eyes. Patients often experience uncontrolled eye movements (nystagmus) due to the lack of protective colour pigments in the iris and the resulting high exposure of the eyes to light. The eye tries to protect the light-sensitive retina from excessive sun exposure and the resultant higher glare sensitivity with these rapid uncontrolled eye movements.
Ocular albinism is a genetic, metabolic disorder for which no therapy exists. The use of blue blocking filters to reduce glare and increase contrast can help patients to lead an almost normal life without significant limitations to their vision.