Acquired Color Vision Defects and Hexane Exposure: A Study of San Francisco Bay Area Automotive Mechanics

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Occupational exposure to solvents, including n-hexane, has been associated with acquired color vision defects. Blue-yellow defects are most common and may be due to neurotoxicity or retinal damage. Acetone may potentiate the neurotoxicity of n-hexane. We present results on nonhexane solvent and hexane exposure and color vision from a cross-sectional study of 835 automotive repair workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, California (2007–2013). Cumulative exposure was estimated from self-reported work history, and color vision was assessed using the Lanthony desaturated D-15 panel test. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate prevalence ratios for color vision defects. Acquired color vision defects were present in 29% of participants, of which 70% were blue-yellow. Elevated prevalence ratios were found for nonhexane solvent exposure, with a maximum of 1.31 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.86, 2.00) for blue-yellow. Among participants aged ≤50 years, the prevalence ratio for blue-yellow defects was 2.17 (95% CI: 1.03, 4.56) in the highest quartile of nonhexane solvent exposure and 1.62 (95% CI: 0.97, 2.72) in the highest category of exposure to hexane with acetone coexposure. Cumulative exposures to hexane and nonhexane solvents in the highest exposure categories were associated with elevated prevalence ratios for color vision defects in younger participants.

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