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Long-term loss of color vision after exposure to mercury vapor *

We evaluated the color vision of 24 subjects (41.6 ± 6.5 years; 6 females) who worked in fluorescent lamp industries. They had been occupationally exposed to mercury vapor (10.6 ± 5.2 years) and had been away from the source of exposure for 6.4 ± 4.04 years. Mean urinary concentration of mercury was 40.6 ± 36.4 µg/g creatinine during or up to 1 year after exposure and 2.71 ± 1.19 µg/g creatinine at the time of color vision testing or up to 1 year thereafter. All patients were diagnosed with chronic mercury intoxication, characterized by clinical symptoms and neuropsychological alterations. A control group (N = 36, 48.6 ± 11.9 years, 10 females, 1.5 ± 0.47 µg mercury/g creatinine) was subjected to the same tests.

Inclusion criteria for both groups were Snellen VA 20/30 or better and absence of known ophthalmologic pathologies. Color discrimination was assessed with the Farnsworth D-15 test (D-15) and with the Lanthony D-15d test (D-15d). Significant differences were found between the two eyes of the patients (P < 0.001) in both tests. Results for the worst eye were also different from controls for both tests: P = 0.014 for D-15 and P < 0.001 for D-15d. As shown in previous studies, the D-15d proved to be more sensitive than the D-15 for the screening and diagnosis of the color discrimination losses. Since color discrimination losses were still present many years after the end of exposure, they may be considered to be irreversible, at least under the conditions of the present study.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 03-31-2009
Authors: C. Feitosa-Santana1,2, M.F. Costa1, M. Lago2 and D.F. Ventura1,2
Source: Braz J Med Biol Res, March 2007, Volume 40(3), 409-414 (Short Communication),