Multifocal and full-field electroretinogram changes associated with color-vision loss in mercury vapor exposure

We evaluated the color vision of mercury-contaminated patients and investigated possible retinal origins of losses using electroretinography. Participants were retired workers from a fluorescent lamp industry diagnosed with mercury contamination (n = 43) and age-matched controls (n = 21). Color discrimination was assessed with the Cambridge Colour Test (CCT). Retinal function was evaluated by using the ISCEV protocol for full-field electroretinography (full-field ERG), as well as by means of multifocal electroretinography (mfERG). Color-vision losses assessed by the CCT consisted of higher color-discrimination thresholds along the protan, deutan, and tritan axes and significantly larger discrimination ellipses in mercury-exposed patients compared to controls. Full-field ERG amplitudes from patients were smaller than those of the controls for the scotopic response b-wave, maximum response, sum of oscillatory potentials (OPs), 30-Hz flicker response, and light-adapted cone response. OP amplitudes measured in patients were smaller than those of controls for O2 and O3. Multifocal ERGs recorded from ten randomly selected patients showed smaller N1–P1 amplitudes and longer latencies throughout the 25-deg central field. Full-field ERGs showed that scotopic, photopic, peripheral, and midperipheral retinal functions were affected, and the mfERGs indicated that central retinal function was also significantly depressed. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of retinal involvement in visual losses caused by mercury toxicity.

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