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Neurotoxicology. 2003 Aug;24(4-5):703-10.

Visual dysfunction in workers exposed to a mixture of organic solvents.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, North 15, West 7, Sapporo 060-8638, Japan.


The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the workers occupationally exposed to a mixture of organic solvents and their visual functions. Here the visual functions included color vision (CV), visual contrast sensitivity (CS) and visual evoked potentials (VEP). Test subjects were 182 workers at 53 furniture factories in the same industrial area of Japan. As control, a group consisted of 96 workers without exposure to any organic solvent was also tested. Exposure assessments were made both by the environmental concentration and biological monitoring. CV and CS tests were carried out for all the subjects. VEP was measured for 21 exposed subjects who were considered to have impaired CV and CS. In the results, the color confusion index (CCI) values of the exposed subjects were significantly higher than that of the age-matched controls (P<0.01). Their CS values were significantly lower than those in the controls at spatial frequencies of 6 and 12 cycles per degree (cpd) (P<0.01 and <0.05, respectively). A significant correlation between the concentration of urinary methylhippuric acid and contrast sensitivity was found by a multiple regression analysis (P<0.05). CCI showed a negative correlation at all spatial frequencies of CS in a simple regression analysis, no abnormal data were found by the VEP test in the exposed subjects who were found to have impaired CV and CS. The results suppose that a low concentration of the mixed organic solvents might affect the retina and optic nerve. However, it needs to be further researched if such an impact affects the Brodmann's areas of visual cortex in the brain.

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