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February 1997

Reduced Blue Cone Electroretinogram in Cocaine-Withdrawn Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey—New Jersey Medical School, Newark (Dr M. Roy), Psychiatry Service (Drs A. Roy and Williams) and Psychology Service (Drs Weinberger and Smelson), Veterans Affairs Medical Center, East Orange, NJ.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(2):153-156. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830140065011

Background:  The main reinforcing effect of cocaine is alteration of dopaminergic neurotransmission in the brain reward systems. Since dopamine is found in high concentrations in the retina, we investigated whether cocaine dependence may be associated with abnormalities of the electroretinogram.

Methods:  We compared recently withdrawn cocainedependent patients (n=20) with age-, sex-, and racematched normal subjects (n=20) for responses of cone photoreceptors to light flashes on full-field electroretinograms.

Results:  Cocaine-dependent patients had significantly reduced blue cone electroretinogram responses compared with matched normal subjects.

Conclusions:  This result suggests that cocainewithdrawn patients have a dysregulation of blue cone function. The electroretinogram may be useful in future studies of cocaine-dependent patients.