Color vision: a sensitive indicator of exposure to neurotoxins

Neurotoxicology. 2000 Oct;21(5):857-62.


In the last 15 years an increasing number of studies have investigated color discrimination in workers exposed to various neurotoxins. Color vision was generally evaluated using the Lanthony D-15 desaturated panel (D-15 d), a test suited to identify mild acquired impairments, that can be easily performed at the workplace. In most studies, results were quantitatively expressed using the method of Bowman or that of Vingrys and King-Smith: the former is the most widely reported, while the latter gives information on the type of color defect. Applying D-15 d, or other color perception tests, impairment in color vision was observed among workers exposed to several solvents (styrene, perchloroethylene, toluene, n-hexane, and carbon disulfide), or to solvent mixtures, and also to metals like mercury. Chemical related color vision loss is a sub-clinical early effect, and in most studies proved dose-related. For styrene and perchloroethylene, and also for solvent mixtures, an impairment was observed at exposure levels lower than the current occupational limits, suggesting that these limits may be inadequate for a proper protection of visual function of workers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Disulfide / toxicity
  • Color Perception* / drug effects
  • Color Vision Defects / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Neurotoxins*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solvents / toxicity
  • Styrene / toxicity
  • Tetrachloroethylene / toxicity
  • Toluene / toxicity


  • Neurotoxins
  • Solvents
  • Toluene
  • Styrene
  • Carbon Disulfide
  • Tetrachloroethylene