Low Vision News

For low vision specialists and those who consult them

Some thoughts on Albinism

I read the review paper on Albinism by Gail Summers in the June 2009 Optometry and Vision Science (link) with interest. When I started working in low vision 11 years ago people with albinism were very interested in knowing whether they had tyrosinase positive or tyrosinase negative albinism: it’s good to be refreshed about the more accepted classifications of OCA1 – 4.

I have always felt that surgery for nystagmus is a bit of a drastic approach and was interested to learn that only 50% of people having had extraocular muscle surgery had an improvement in visual acuity, and those that did only increased by 1 line. Anecdotally, the people I have seen with albinism in the low vision clinic tend to do extremely well at school and to enter high-powered professions: I can’t think that a 1-line VA improvement would make much difference to quality of life in this group of people.

One slight criticism I have of the review paper is that reading speed wasn’t discussed. My impression is that children with albinism read more quickly than would be expected given their visual acuity and contrast sensitivity and I would have been interested in seeing a review of functional performance of people with albinism compared to other causes of visual impairment. Maybe I should write that myself…

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