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Impairment of colour vision in workers exposed to organic solvents


OBJECTIVES To investigate loss of colour vision related to exposure to solvents and the role of three enzyme polymorphisms in modifying the risk in exposed workers.

METHODS A sample was studied of 68 male dockyard workers and 42 male community controls with and without neuropsychological symptoms from a previous cross sectional study. Indices of cumulative and intensity based exposure to solvents were calculated for all subjects. Alcohol, drug, and smoking histories were obtained. Colour vision was tested by Lanthony D15d colour vision test. Genotype of glutathione S-transferase M1 and T1 and N-acetyltransferase 2 polymorphisms were determined.

RESULTS The relation between impairment of colour vision and exposure to solvents was investigated with multiple regression techniques. Increasing annual exposure to solvents was significantly associated with reduced colour vision (p=0.029). Impairment of colour vision was not associated with neuropsychological symptoms as measured by the Q16 solvent symptom questionnaire. No significant association was found between acquired impairment of colour vision and genetic polymorphisms when GSTM1, GSTT1 or NAT2 phenotypes were included in the analyses.

CONCLUSIONS Exposure to mixed solvents is associated with impairment in colour vision, the risk increases with increasing exposure. The risk of impairment of colour vision was not altered in this study by the presence of different GSTM1, GSTT1 or NAT2 polymorphisms.

  • colour vision
  • organic solvents
  • genetic polymorphisms

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