pexels-photo-2095953“You know you need some better glasses.”  “Honey, if you’d wear your glasses, you could see that.”

Why do strangers feel the need to share their personal opinions about my vision? Well, when you find an answer for that one, please feel free to share. These are just two of the comments I’ve gotten delivered in a condescending tone by complete strangers in public, and I’ve heard even worse from others with albinism.

Here, I break down the vision of people with albinism and describe the underlying issues as well as nystagmus, strabismus, and photophobia.

The Optic Nerve and Other Underlying Issues

Albinism affects the brain’s ability to conduct impulses from the retina through the optic nerve to the brain, and basically, information that is sent from the eyes to the brain is flawed. The number of nerve fibers that travel from each eye to each side of the brain is also affected. Albinism also leads to the underdevelopment of a part of the eye called the fovea, which is responsible for fine central vision. This means that true fine binocular vision is impossible for many with albinism. Glasses, contacts, and surgery cannot affect how the fovea or the optic nerve works, so these limitations are more permanent.

Myopia, Hyperopia, and Astigmatism

People with albinism can also have some of the same visual impairments that others deal with including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (a distortion of the lens). With nearsightedness, the eyes can perceive things that are closer but may struggle with farther objects. This is the case in my vision. For example, I can read my phone while holding it inches from my face, but I cannot see the facial features of a close friend from five feet away. With Farsightedness, the opposite is true; objects in the distance are clear, while reading glasses (glasses with magnification) need to be used for closer objects. Unlike the previously mentioned issues, these can be improved with LASIK surgery, glasses and contacts.

Nystagmus, Strabismus, and Photophobia

The final piece of our vision includes outside factors that vary for each person with albinism. These include nystagmus (an involuntary shaking of the eyes), strabismus (eyes that don’t move together), and photophobia (sensitivity to light).

Nystagmus, or shaking eyes, can diminish visual acuity in that the eyes have less time to focus on objects. For me, I do not feel my eyes physically shaking unless I make an effort to notice them, but because they are constantly moving, I struggle with reading in cars, reading text quickly (such as subtitles), or focusing on seeing several things at once. Nystagmus also causes eye fatigue to become a frequent issue. Also, the physical appearance of nystagmus can be unnerving to some, and some people with nystagmus have been accused of drug use due to this condition.

Strabismus can cause the eyes to look misaligned, and the eyes can angle in any direction. If severe cases of strabismus are not corrected with surgery in childhood, eye development can be affected. As a personal note, my eyes were badly crossed at birth, so I had three different surgeries along with vision therapy to correct this issue. This condition also contributes to my inability to visually focus on several things at one time.

Photophobia is the sensitivity to light, and photophobia occurs in people with albinism because our eyes lack pigment to some degree. Because the amount of pigment among people with albinism varies so greatly, the amount of photophobia also varies from person to person. Sure, photophobia causes issues on sunny days, at the beach, and in the snow, but other situations and settings are often overlooked.

Overcast Days: On these days the sky is a gigantic solid-colored light source. Imagine a giant light box for your normal eyes, and that is how an overcast day appears to some of those with albinism.
What can you do? Sunglasses and hats are some of the best options in this situation. Some also opt for transition lenses.

Fluorescent Lights: These lights are harsh on normal eyes, but they also act as a giant light source. In settings that use florescent lighting, these lights are very overused. Florescent lights are cool and harsh. Warmer-toned lights are gentler on people who suffer from photophobia.
What can you do? Getting a light tint on your regular glasses or wearing amber lenses can help with this problem. The amber color adds a warmth that filters out some of the harsh cooler-toned light. This works the same way as Night ShiftNight Light, and blue light filters function on your smartphone, tablet, and computer. Sunglasses in this shade also help to cut down on glare but do take some getting used to at first.

Cars Without Window Tint: Being in a car can be tough for those with photophobia, especially when the car has no window tint. Sitting inside a car is essentially like sitting in a glass box with a lid. Sun comes in from all sides at times, and this can be blinding and even painful for some. Another issue that can occur in a car without window tint is sunburn. A person with albinism can absolutely get sunburn while sitting inside a car, but that is for another post.
What can you do? I highly recommend getting all the windows in your car tinted if you can afford it. You can also get a light tint put on your windshield, but some areas do have rules about this. It makes a shocking difference. A cheaper alternative is a sunshade for your child’s window or the passenger window where you sit normally, but this option can impair the view of the driver so use this option with caution. Solving this issue is more of a challenge for those who don’t ride in the same car or cars again and again. For that group, sunglasses are a must, and I would also recommend sitting in the center of a back seat if the sun is particularly harsh.

Seating That Faces a Window: Restaurants, homes, coffee shops, stores, and any setting with lots of sunlight can be a challenge. Again, this brightly lit window becomes a giant light box and makes it much harder for a person with photophobia to see anything, such as the face of a friend, a menu, their phone, etc.
What can you do? If you have friends with photophobia, let them have that seat with their back to the window. If you have albinism and/or photophobia, explain this issue to your friends and family and ask for your seat preference. They’ll most likely understand. I feel so rude when I wear sunglasses indoors, so I always opt for the seat with my back to any windows. I still struggle to read menus in challenging lighting situations, so going over what’s on the menu with a friend can help along with taking pictures of the menu with a smartphone.

If you have more questions about these topics, you can contact me here

Stay curious.

Danielle Moulds

AlbinoRocks Online Magazine… Coming soon!

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Three Albino killers get death sentence – The Times Group Malawi

The High Court sitting in Mchinji District yesterday sentenced three people to death for murdering a person with albinism in August 2015.

According to Judge Esmie Chombo, the three were found guilty of the gruesome murder in which they chopped off hands and legs of the victim.

The three—Douglas Mwale, Sophie Jere and Fontino Folosani —murdered Priscott Pepuzani in a bush using a metal bar and hoe handle and buried his body in a garden.

“After the court heard from both parties involved, it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the three people really murdered the person with albinism.

“It is a sad thing that this country is no longer a safe place for people with albinism to live in. This malpractice must end and the court is here to stand up with people with albinism,” Chombo said.

She condemned what she called the “evil” act of killing fellow humans for rituals.

She said the death sentences had been meted out in order to send a strong message to would-be offenders but also to put to a stop such malpractices.

The three were charged with four counts of murder, conspiracy to harm a person with disability, selling body tissues and possession of human tissues.

After cross-examination and submission by State and defense lawyers before conviction, the court convicted three out of four accused persons.

It acquitted the fourth accused person Alick Kambani due to lack of substantive evidence on his involvement.

The court heard that the fourth accused was in Zambia when the incident happened.


How To Write Attention Grabbing Speech Introductions



6 techniques for writing attention grabbing speech introductions 


If writing a speech is difficult, coming up with an effective speech introduction is even more difficult. Best speech introductions are the ones that help you to grab the attention of the audience quickly. This article will help you in coming up with attention grabbing speech introductions.

Imagine traveling to a new city. It is late in the night. You are very hungry and you are driving around looking for a restaurant. You see two restaurants … one with a well-lit name board saying “Hotel Royale”. There are plants on both the sides of the walkway and the walkway is maintained neat and clean. You see another restaurant, with a flickering light that hasn’t been repaired for a while. The name board isn’t very visible. The walkway to the restaurant is covered with dry leaves, used paper cups and trash.

You haven’t dined in both the restaurants before. Which one will you choose? You don’t know the quality of food inside? But, you decide based on your first impressions.

That is the power of speech introductions. Will you listen to a speaker who starts with a dull ‘n boring introduction that make you to yawn (or) the one who starts the speech with full of enthusiasm and tries to grab the audience’s attention.

Speech openings should
1) Grab Attention
2) Introduce the Topic to the audience
3) Build Rapport

Arouse suspense or curiosity

When you start your speech with a suspense, the curiosity of the listeners increases many folds. Think about the movies that start with someone lying in a pool of blood … you’ll be curious to know who committed the crime. This will keep you glued to the movie, throughout.

Here is a method of creating suspense or curiosity in the minds of the audience:

Today, I’m going to talk about a person who was a shy kid during his school days. A person who was very determined and was even ready to give up his life saying “I would rather die instead of eating animal food”. A lean old man… who united an entire country for a common cause. A true believer of non-violence. Friends, “Yes… I’m going to talk about the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi”. 

Make a startling statement

Shock the audience by beginning your speech with a startling statement. Audience typically expects you to begin your speech with the usual “Yalla… Yabba… Yamma…”. So, when you begin your speech with a startling statement, you’ll put them in a shock. It will help you to get their attention quickly.

Instead of starting with a speech introduction like, “Cancer is a deadly disease. It kills a number of people. Today, I’m going to talk about Cancer and its impact on the society“, you can make a startling statement like “17,000 people die of cancer every day. Are you going to be one of them?

Tell a story 

Audience love listening to stories. That is the reason why the movie halls are filled with people, when a movie has a good story line.

Instead of beginning your speech with “I’m going to talk about drink and drive“, you can start with a short story like the one given below:

A dark chill night… time was 12 o’clock. I was walking alone in the road… there was absolute silence… my heart was beating lub dub… lub dud.. rain started drizzling… all of a sudden I heard a loud noise… A car had rammed into a tree. I rushed to the car. The driver was unconscious. There was smell of whisky. Friends, this is what happens when you drink and drive.

Ask a rhetorical question

Politicians are good at using rhetorics to their advantage. They always make (actually, force!?) you to think about the hard facts/reality by asking rhetorical questions.

Instead of beginning your speech with “I’m going to tell you about how to become fit“, you can ask “How many of you want to stay fit, but do not have a regular exercise routine? How many of you here take ‘new year resolutions’ but do not follow them? How many of you have personal goals for which you hardly spend any time? In the next 7 minutes, you are going to learn simple techniques to achieve your goals faster.

Begin with a quotation

Quotes help you to get the attention of the audience quickly. Instead of beginning your speech with an introduction like… “Fellow speakers, leadership is an important skill that we need to learn. Leadership will make you successful. So, I’m sure you are curious to know more about leadership“, you can use quotes to begin your speech.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” a beautiful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Friends, Soundmind Speakers provide an excellent opportunity to become leaders – to create a path for fellow members to follow. Today, I’m going to talk about the benefits of taking leadership roles in toastmasters”.

Reference the occasion

Advance speakers, begin their speeches by making a reference to the occasion. In most cases, you’ll have to do it off the cuff. Professional trainers begin their training sessions by talking about a news that they read in the local news paper that day … or by referring to an event that occurred just before the training session.