Legal highs linked to retinal damage

Poppers have been connected with impaired central vision, blurriness and blind spots in a new study

13 Apr 2017 by Selina Powell

Man with hood upPoppers, a liquid legal high with psychoactive effects, have been linked to retinal damage in a new study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology

The research reports on findings by a retinal specialist relating to 12 patients who used poppers. The most common reported symptom among the patients was impaired central vision, including blurriness and blind spots.

One of the patients developed a progressive central scotoma after using the popper, Jungle Juice.

Researchers linked the visual symptoms associated with poppers to a change in the chemical composition of the legal high.

The principal chemical ingredient was changed from isobutyl nitrite to isopropyl nitrite after the former drug was found to be carcinogenic in 2006.

The patients in the study, some of whom had used poppers for 20 years or more, only noticed symptoms of visual disturbance after switching to new brands containing isopropyl nitrite.

The researchers suggest that excluding poppers from legislation banning legal highs should be reconsidered.

“While retinal damage can often resolve on cessation of use, symptoms can be prolonged and the visual effects of chronic use of the newer brands of poppers are unknown. For these reasons, it seems appropriate that the level of harm associated with poppers should be reassessed,” they concluded. 

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