Eye Movements of Human Albinos


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Abstract

Albino mammals are known to suffer from misrouted optic projections and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that human albinos have similar aberrant anatomical pathways. The present study examined the possible consequences of such aberrant pathways on the oculomotor performance of five adult human albinos. Optokinetic nystagmus to drifting grating patterns and pursuit eye movements were measured. The subjects' congenital nystagmus was also measured under different conditions of gaze position and ambient room illumination. Two of the subjects showed clear instances of an inversion in the optokinetic response and there were probable inversions observed for a third subject. The magnitude of the optokinetic nystagmus was appropriate for the rate of pattern drift, but inverted in direction. In all cases smooth pursuit was severely impaired, but reversals of the appropriate direction of pursuit eye movements were not observed. Changes in the congenital nystagmus under conditions of light and darkness were found for four of the five subjects and varied greatly between subjects. The results suggest that human albinos share many of the oculomotor deficits found in other albino species.

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