Long-term occupational exposure to organic solvents affects color vision, contrast sensitivity and visual fields.
OPEN PloS one | 24 Aug 2012
TL Costa, MT Barboni, AL Moura, DM Bonci, M Gualtieri, LC de Lima Silveira and DF Ventura
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the visual outcome of chronic occupational exposure to a mixture of organic solvents by measuring color discrimination, achromatic contrast sensitivity and visual fields in a group of gas station workers. We tested 25 workers (20 males) and 25 controls with no history of chronic exposure to solvents (10 males). All participants had normal ophthalmologic exams. Subjects had worked in gas stations on an average of 9.6 ± 6.2 years. Color vision was evaluated with the Lanthony D15d and Cambridge Colour Test (CCT). Visual field assessment consisted of white-on-white 24-2 automatic perimetry (Humphrey II-750i). Contrast sensitivity was measured for sinusoidal gratings of 0.2, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 5.0, 10.0 and 20.0 cycles per degree (cpd). Results from both groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test. The number of errors in the D15d was higher for workers relative to controls (p<0.01). Their CCT color discrimination thresholds were elevated compared to the control group along the protan, deutan and tritan confusion axes (p<0.01), and their ellipse area and ellipticity were higher (p<0.01). Genetic analysis of subjects with very elevated color discrimination thresholds excluded congenital causes for the visual losses. Automated perimetry thresholds showed elevation in the 9°, 15° and 21° of eccentricity (p<0.01) and in MD and PSD indexes (p<0.01). Contrast sensitivity losses were found for all spatial frequencies measured (p<0.01) except for 0.5 cpd. Significant correlation was found between previous working years and deutan axis thresholds (rho = 0.59; p<0.05), indexes of the Lanthony D15d (rho=0.52; p<0.05), perimetry results in the fovea (rho= -0.51; p<0.05) and at 3, 9 and 15 degrees of eccentricity (rho= -0.46; p<0.05). Extensive and diffuse visual changes were found, suggesting that specific occupational limits should be created.
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