Xanthopsia is the condition of seeing the world in yellow. Yellow vision is a very rare medical complaint. Known possible causes are described in this article as well as the theorized mechanism involved.
The complaint of yellow vision is rather rare in medicine. The condition is known as “xanthopsia” and is usually described as a transparent veil of yellow which covers the eyes. In many patients, the situation comes and goes thus making them very aware of a recurrent visual disturbance. A commonly ascribed culprit is the (Na) sodium channels in the optic nerve. There are a few possible conditions that are known to be associated with xanthopsia. These will be described in the next paragraphs.
Although the medical compliant of xanthopsia is relatively rare, it tends to frequent medical exams where it is classically associated with chronic digitalis overdosing. Although in practice, digitalis overdosing rarely presents as xanthopsia, since abdominal complaints and nausea usually occur first. The most famous case of xanthopsia which has been ascribed to digitalis is Vincent Van Goh the painter who was treated with digitalis at high doses. Some medical historians claim that Van Goh’s excess use of yellow in his painting is because of this.
Although probably extremely rare, there are a few cases of vitamin deficiencies that have been associated with complaints of yellow vision. As a rule, in these instances, xanthopsia was not the only symptom and other signs and symptoms of vitamin deficiency were apparent. Namely, these include vitamin A and vitamin B6. In either case, rapid reversal of the problem was achieved as soon as the vitamin deficiency was addressed thus helping to establish the deficiency as the cause as well as solving the problem for the patient.
Xanthopsia or yellow vision is a very rare medical complaint. Nonetheless, it is a complaint which warrants detailed investigation and could potentially be a sign of significant underlying disease. Fortunately, most causes of xanthopsia are quite amenable to treatment once the cause has been diagnosed.