What is Waardenburg Syndrome? This disease has, among other things, the pigmentation of the eyes. It usually gives them an extra light blue color with a deep sheen. The indigenous people of a tribe on the Indonesian island of Buton know about it. They are the population where Waardenburg syndrome is most common. It’s about the blue-eyed tribe.
Blue that stands out
This pigmentation looks even more impressive on the members of this tribe. Why? In contrast. Because they have dark skin, black hair, and usually dark eyes, this pigmentation is more noticeable. The inherited mutation usually occurs in one in 42,000 people in a normal population. However, this is not the case in this case. Many of the members of this tribe belong to the same family. Because of this, it is particularly common among them.
This tribe, as well as the condition they suffer from, became better known thanks to the work of Korchnoi Pasaribu. He’s a photographer who posted these people’s snaps on his Instagram account. Pasaribu was in this region in mid-September. He had the opportunity to take photos of this tribe in traditional clothing, with an emphasis on their special eyes.
The pigmentation of the eyes is the most obvious feature in people with Waardenburg syndrome. But he’s not the only one. There are other very bothersome symptoms. Thus, pigmentation can also appear in the form of spots on the skin. These people can experience varying degrees of numbness and an altered eye shape known as telecanthus.
In fact, the falls of Telecanthus can be seen in some of the images shared by Pasaribu. What’s happening? That the inner corners of the eyes are further apart. The position of the pupils of the eyes does not change.
Not just the eyes
Unfortunately, the severity of symptoms can be beyond numbness. Deformation of the limbs can occur. Or permanent contractions of the fingers and bowel disorders. In addition, in the most extreme cases, symptoms of deficits in the central nervous system can appear. They are manifested in developmental delays and abnormalities in muscle tone.
This syndrome was first described in the first half of the 20th century. However, it was named after the Dutch ophthalmologist and geneticist Petrus Johannes Waardenburg, who first described it in 1951. The blue-eyed tribe already knows this name well. But for them it is the name of misfortune. Hopefully, they’ll soon get the medical help they need.