Hey there, so I'm Sanele Xaba and 21 year old international Male Model based in Cape Town and I have Albinism. I'm signed with Boss Models South Africa and Djamee Models in NYC.
I'm originally from Durban an I've been modelling for the past 5 years and it's been pretty cool to see the modelling industry in South Africa get so diverse... There is still more work to be done though with regards to including models with sporadic looks. So as this is albinism awareness month I decided to give you a brief explanation of albinism and the types that you can find and why one has albinism.
Albinism is a rare group of genetic disorders that cause the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color. Many types of albinism exist, all of which involve lack of pigment in varying degrees. The condition, which is found in all races, may be accompanied by eye problems and Sensitvity to the sun.
The most common type of albinism is oculocutaneous albinism, which affects the eyes, hair, and skin. In its most severe form, hair and skin remain completely white throughout life. People with a less severe form are born with white hair and skin that turn slightly darker as they age. Everyone with oculocutaneous albinism experiences abnormal flickering eye movements (nystagmus) and sensitivity to bright light. There may be other eye problems as well, including poor vision and crossed or "lazy" eyes (strabismus).
What Are the Types of Albinism?
Different gene defects characterize the numerous types of albinism. Types of albinism include:
Oculocutaneous Albinism (OCA) OCA affects the skin, hair, and eyes. There are several subtypes of OCA: OCA1 OCA2 OCA3 OCA4
OCA1 is due to a defect in the tyrosinase enzyme. There are two subtypes of OCA1.
OCA1a: People with OCA1a have a complete absence of melanin, the pigment that gives skin, eyes, and hair their coloring. People with this subtype have white hair, very pale skin, and light eyes. OCA1b: People with OCA1b produce some melanin. They have light-colored skin, hair, and eyes. Their coloring may increase as they age.
OCA2 is less severe than OCA1. It’s due to a defect in the OCA2 gene that results in reduced melanin production. People with OCA2 are born with light coloring and skin, and their hair may be yellow, blond, or light brown. OCA2 is most common in Sub-Saharan Africans, African Americans, and Native Americans
OCA3 is a defect in a gene called the TYRP1 gene. It usually affects dark-skinned people, particularly black South Africans. People with OCA3 have reddish-brown skin, reddish hair, and hazel or brown eyes.
OCA4 is due to a defect in the SLC45A2 protein. It results in a minimal production of melanin and commonly appears in people of East Asian descent. People with OCA4 have symptoms similar to those in people with OCA2.
So what causes Albinism?
A defect in one of several genes that produce or distribute melanin causes albinism. The defect may result in the absence of melanin production, or a reduced amount of melanin production. The defective gene passes down from both parents to the child and causes albinism.
Albinism occurs with vision problems, which may include:
*strabismus (crossed eyes) *photophobia (sensitivity to light) *nystagmus (involuntary rapid eye movements) *impaired vision or blindness astigmatism
Lastly There is no cure for albinism. Treatment for albinism can relieve symptoms and prevent sun damage. Treatment may include:
* Sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV rays * Protective clothing and sunscreen to protect the skin from UV rays *Prescription eyeglasses to correct vision problems * Surgery on the muscles of the eyes to correct abnormal eye movements
NB: People with Albinism cannot get laser surgery because of the nystagmus and lack of melanin in the eyes