The first thing to do to be clear about the meaning of the term albino is to know its etymological origin. And in this case we have to expose that it is a word that comes from Latin, exactly “albinus”, which is synonymous with “white” and which, in turn, derives from “albus”.
It is called albinism to the condition that has the albino: the living being that a lack of pigmentation, has the hair, skin or other parts of your body closer color to the white compared to the usual shades of race or species.
The concept of albinism refers to different genetic alterations that occur from gene mutations. These changes cause the melanin to disappear or its level to be reduced considerably. In the case of plants, it is produced by the absence of carotenes or other substances.
In humans and other animals, cells called melanocytes convert tyrosine (an amino acid) to melanin. This pigment is distributed throughout the body, protecting and giving color to the iris of the eye, hair and skin. Those who have albinism, fail to generate melanin or fail to distribute the pigment throughout the body.
Albinism is an inherited condition. According to how the disorder develops, it is possible to talk about different types of albinism: complete albinism, oculocutaneous albinism, etc.
It is established that people who have albinism share a series of significant characteristics, in addition to those already mentioned:
-A high percentage of albinos have severe vision problems that cannot even be corrected by using glasses. And it is that they are in an abnormal situation both what is the retina and the connections between brain and eyes.
-Their complexion is really clear, which is why it is necessary that the protection they use with respect to the sun is very forceful, since otherwise they could have serious consequences for their skin.
No less important is that the vast majority of those with albinism face a high risk of social isolation. And it is that in many corners of the planet there are legends and absurd prejudices regarding these individuals. A good example of this is Africa where in many of the countries albinism is associated with witchcraft, hence those who are albinos are subjected to persecution to end their lives. The latest data in this regard indicate that in recent years more than 160 people have been killed by this condition on the aforementioned continent.
Musicians Johnny Winter and Hermeto Pascoal and actor and writer Dennis Hurley are some of the famous personalities with albinism. In the case of animals, several have become popular in captivity, such as the Snowflake gorilla (who died in 2003) and the Snowdrop penguin (died in 2004).
It should be noted that albino animals face many difficulties to survive in the wild due to the ease of predators to detect them and the damage they suffer from the sun’s rays.