Visual dysfunction among styrene-exposed workers

Scand J Work Environ Health. 1995 Oct;21(5):382-90. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.53.


Objectives: The present study was undertaken to examine the relation between visual functions and occupational exposure to styrene.

Methods: A total of 128 workers (85% of the total population), from three glass-reinforced plastics plants in Canada, agreed to participate in the study. Environmental and biological measures were made on the day(s) prior to the assessment of near visual acuity (National Optical Visual Chart), chromatic discrimination (Lanthony D-15 desaturated panel), and near contrast sensitivity (Vistech 6000). The analyses were performed on 81 workers with near visual acuity of at least 1 min of arc at 0.5 m.

Results: The subjects were relatively young [29 (SD 8) years], with little seniority [5 (SD 4) years]. Styrene exposure for 8 h ranged from 6 to 937 (first quartile 21 mg.m-3, third quartile 303 mg.m-3), depending on the job site. The end-shift concentrations of urinary mandelic acid ranged from nondetectable to 1.90 mmol.mmol creatinine-1. Significant positive relations were found between the internal and external styrene exposure measurements and color vision loss adjusted for age, alcohol consumption, and seniority in a multiple regression analysis. The multiple regression analysis is also showed that the end-shift concentration of urinary mandelic acid was inversely related to contrast sensitivity at 6 and 12 Logistic multiple regression models indicated that the end-shift concentration of urinary mandelic acid was related to the prevalences of blurred vision, tearing, and eye irritation.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that there is a positive relation between styrene exposure and early color and contrast vision dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Color Vision Defects / chemically induced
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandelic Acids / urine
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Styrene
  • Styrenes / adverse effects*
  • Vision Disorders / chemically induced*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Mandelic Acids
  • Styrenes
  • Styrene
  • mandelic acid