The influence of established and new antiepileptic drugs on visual perception. II. A controlled study in patients with epilepsy under long-term antiepileptic medication

Epilepsy Res. 1997 Dec;29(1):49-58. doi: 10.1016/s0920-1211(97)00062-4.


In this study, we investigated visual performance under chronic antiepileptic drug treatment. Patients were under carbamazepine (CBZ) (n = 18), valproic acid (VPA) (n = 9), CBZ and vigabatrin (VGB) (n = 4), CBZ and gabapentin (GBP) (n = 8), and under CBZ and topiramate (TPR) (n = 6), respectively. Seven untreated patients with epilepsy and 42 healthy volunteers served as controls. The test battery comprised the Lanthony-D15-désaturé colour perception test, increment, postadaptation and transient tritanopia (TT) threshold measurements, visual perception threshold assessments for monochromatic and chromatic gratings and gaussian dots, and critical flicker fusion (CFF) tests. No differences were seen between naive patients and healthy controls. Patients under drug treatment always showed alterations of visual perception. Postadaptation and TT thresholds were altered under each drug regimen after short delays between switching off the adaptation light and switching on the blue test light. Threshold elevations were maximum under the combination of CBZ and TPR and lowest under CBZ and GBP. Consistent impairment of the CFF was seen under combined CBZ and TPR whereas VPA as well as combined CBZ and VGB led to ameliorations the mechanisms of which are discussed. The other tests were less sensitive. In conclusion, alterations of visual function were apparent under chronic antiepileptic drug treatment both with established and new agents. However, it may be difficult to distinguish between effects based on specific modes of action and nonspecific retino- and neurotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular / drug effects
  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Color Perception / drug effects
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Flicker Fusion
  • Humans
  • Sensory Thresholds / drug effects
  • Visual Perception / drug effects*


  • Anticonvulsants