Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Important information for patients taking hydroxychloroquine

If you are an APS patient who regularly takes hydroxychloroquine (trade names Plaquenil and Quinoric in the UK), please be aware that the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO) have updated their guidelines regarding eye testing. 

This is because recent studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine retinopathy is more common than previously reported – around 7 in every 100 patients - especially with long-term use over five years or heavy doses. The risk is much higher in patients who have been taking the drug for 20 years or more: in these patients, between 20-50 out of 100 will develop retinopathy. 

This type of retinopathy, also known as ‘bull’s eye maculopathy’, damages the retina and symptoms can include partial colour-blindness, loss of fine detail, blurring or distortion, night blindness and permanent central vision loss. 

Therefore, the RCO now recommends that all patients who take hydroxychloroquine for longer than five years should be referred by their GP, or APS specialist, for a yearly test at a hospital eye clinic. 

The screening will be comprehensive and your pupils will be dilated with eye drops – for the technical information involved, please read the RCO’s guidelines: 

https://www.rcophth.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Hydroxychloroquine-and-Chloroquine-Retinopathy-Screening-Guideline-and-Recommendations.pdf

There is also a very useful leaflet produced by the Macular Society that you may find helpful: 

https://www.macularsociety.org/sites/default/files/resource/Hydroxychloroquine%20-%20access_0.pdf

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