Visual impairments in tobacco use disorder

Thiago P. Fernandes, Steven M. Silverstein, Natalia L. Almeida, Natanael A. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Prior studies found small effects of chronic smoking on spatial and color vision, but they were inconclusive. This study tries to: (1) replicate and extend these previous findings, and (2) rule in that this relationship is pronounced by tobacco addiction. Data were recorded in 71 healthy controls (M = 33.5 years; SD = 5.4 years) and 63 individuals with tobacco addiction (M = 34.7 years; SD = 4.8 years). Visual processing was assessed in the forms of contrast sensitivity for linear sine-wave gratings (spatial frequencies ranging between 0.2 and 16 cycles per degree) and color discrimination (using the Ellipse and Trivector subtests). The groups were matched for age, gender and level of education. The group with heavy smokers had reduced sensitivity for all spatial frequencies (p <.001), and impairments in color discrimination for both Trivector (all p-values <.001 for Protan, Deutan and Tritan) and Ellipse (all p-values <.001). This study consistently replicates and extended previous findings, and showed that visual processing can be strongly associated with tobacco addiction. These results indicate that excessive use of cigarettes, or chronic exposure to their compounds, affects visual discrimination, supporting the existence of overall deficits in visual processing in tobacco addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Jan 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Color discrimination
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Psychiatry
  • Tobacco addiction
  • Visual perception


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