Albinism is a group of inherited conditions which result in the absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and/or the retina of the eye. People and animals with albinism lack protection from light and radiation and lack the distinctive colouration which normal pigmentation provides. Defective vision, photophobia and nystagmus are additional handicaps. As a result, albino animals are rarely able to survive in the wild. In man, at least three different forms of albinism occur, depending on the degree of lack of melanin: universal complete albinism, also called oculocutaneous albinism, involving the skin, hair and eyes; ocular albinism, in which only the eyes are affected; and localized albinism, the commonest form, in which small areas of the body lack pigment (white locks, spotlings). Albinism is a serious disablement, especially among non-white groups, because an albino's physical appearance is completely in contrast with that of the other members of community, exposing him to mockery, discrimination and social exclusion.
One person in 17,000 has some type of albinism. Albinism affects people from all races. The incidence seems higher in non-white races because people with albinism are more instantly recognizable, and because traditional studies of albinism have been done in smaller closely related tribes where there seem to be more affected individuals. Most children with albinism are born to parents who have normal hair and eye colour for their ethnic backgrounds.