Albinism Treatment & Management

Updated: Aug 17, 2018
  • Author: Mounir Bashour, MD, PhD, CM, FRCSC, FACS; Chief Editor: Donny W Suh, MD, FAAP  more...
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Treatment

Medical Care

Until late 2011, no potential effective treatment or cure existed for albinism, but the following may be helpful and a new medication may offer some potential hope:

  • Low-vision aids: No one device can serve the needs of all patients in all situations. Young children may simply need glasses, while older children may require bifocals. Occasionally, telescopic lenses mounted on glasses (bioptics) are prescribed for close-up work and distance vision. The use of Braille is not necessary as children with albinism read the dots visually.

  • Tinted glasses may be used to reduce photophobia. Some patients do not like tinted lenses; they may benefit from wearing a cap or visor when outdoors.

  • For the treatment of strabismus, it is preferred to start eye-patching infants at age 6 months (prior to completion of eye development). Some cases of strabismus may improve with glasses correction.

  • Nitisinone, which is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating hereditary tyrosinemia type 1, elevates plasma tyrosine levels and increases eye and hair pigmentation. Nitisinone may soon be a potential treatment for people with ocular albinism. [11, 12]

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Surgical Care

Albino persons with strabismus rarely achieve binocularity and depth perception after strabismus surgery, possibly because they lack the necessary neuronal connections.

Patients with albinism tend to do poorly after retinal detachment repair because of nystagmus and inherently weak retinal pigment epithelium–retinal adhesions.

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Consultations

Consult a hematologist if a patient is diagnosed with Chediak-Higashi syndrome (CHS) or Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome (HPS).

Consultation with a genetic counselor may be helpful.

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