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Macaroni Journal – Pingelap is a small island in Micronesia in the South Pacific, beset by a rare genetic condition: a significant proportion of the population have complete achromatopsia, a rare congenital disease that only allows sufferers to perceive the black, white and shades of gray.

The curse appears to have begun in 1775, when a catastrophic typhoon swept through the island, leaving only about 20 surviving the tragedy, including the king (Nanmwarki Mwanenihsed), who probably passed severe blindness to his numerous descendants.

Since achromatopsia is an autosomal recessive disorder, inbreeding – supported in a religion that discourages marriage to foreigners, coupled with geographical isolation found in the region – between the descendants of Nahnmwarki Mwanenised would result in an increased recessive allele frequency.

The people of the island explain that is difficult to work in sunlight, since all they perceive is a burnt image. This is particularly annoying for fishermen and those forced to work under harsh tropical light. Also, when cooking, achromatopsia it makes it very difficult the task of distinguishing spoiled food (it is believed that the colour distinction is an evolutionary advance to ensure the safety of the food we eat).

But not all are disadvantages: as a counterpart to the difficulties, those affected have extraordinary night vision, allowing them to see well in the dark.

So much of life in Pingelap is lived at night.