Blue-yellow colour vision impairment and cognitive deficits in occasional and dependent stimulant users

Experimental and Clinical Pharmacopsychology, Clinic for Affective Disorders and General Psychiatry, University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich, Switzerland.
The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 5.26). 06/2012; 16(3):1-13. DOI: 10.1017/S1461145712000624
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Specific blue-yellow colour vision impairment has been reported in dependent cocaine users and it was postulated that drug-induced changes in retinal dopamine neurotransmission are responsible. However, it is unclear whether these changes are confined to chronic cocaine users, whether they are specific for dopaminergic stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine and whether they are related to cognitive functions such as working memory, encoding and consolidation. In 47 occasional and 29 dependent cocaine users, 23 MDMA (commonly known as 'ecstasy') users and 47 stimulant-naive controls, colour vision discrimination was measured with the Lanthony Desaturated Panel D-15 Test and memory performance with the Auditory Verbal Learning Test. Both occasional and dependent cocaine users showed higher colour confusion indices than controls. Users of the serotonergic stimulant MDMA (26%), occasional (30%) and dependent cocaine users (34%) exhibited more frequent blue-yellow colour vision disorders compared to controls (9%). Inferior performance of MDMA users was caused by a subgroup with high amphetamine co-use (55%), while MDMA use alone was not associated with decreased blue-yellow discrimination (0%). Cognitive performance was worse in cocaine users with colour vision disorder compared to users and controls with intact colour vision and both colour vision impairment and cognitive deficits were related to cocaine use. Occasional cocaine and amphetamine use might induce blue-yellow colour vision impairment, whereas the serotonergic stimulant MDMA does not impair colour vision. The association between colour vision impairment and cognitive deficits in cocaine users may reflect that retinal and cerebral dopamine alterations are linked to a certain degree.