Hydroxychloroquine Eye Screening
Hydroxychloroquine Eye Screening
Some people who take hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for more than five years, or in high doses, are at increased risk of damage to their retina. This specialist screening is designed to diagnose and monitor the possible effects of the medication on your eye health and vision.
What is Hydroxychloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine is a medication used to treat several inflammatory joint and skin conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, solar urticarial and lupus erythematosus.
Hydroxychloroquine has been prescribed to help manage your condition. This medication is safe and effective, but it can cause side effects.
What is Hydroxychloroquine Retinopathy?
Patients who have been prescribed hydroxychloroquine for more than five years (especially in high doses) are at risk of damage to the retina at the back of the eye. This is known as retinal toxicity or retinopathy.
Severe retinopathy, especially at the macula (the central retina), can cause significant, irreversible sight loss. For this reason, patients are referred to an ophthalmic specialist for detailed eye health checks to screen for signs of retinopathy.
The aim of screening is not to prevent retinopathy but to become aware of the earliest signs before any visual symptoms appear. Patients usually receive an eye appointment ideally within 6 months of starting treatment of hydroxychloroquine, but no later than 12 months after starting the medication.
How often will I need to be screened for retinopathy?
No Signs of Retinopathy
If all the tests show a normal retina and no signs of retinopathy, the images of your retina will be kept on file, and you will be invited back 12 months later for a repeat of the tests. The new images will be compared to the initial tests to check for any changes. You will continue to be screened every year until you stop taking hydroxychloroquine and reports will be sent after each examination to your General Practitioner and prescribing doctor.
If you stop taking hydroxychloroquine and there are no signs of retinopathy then screening for any hydroxychloroquine retinopathy will cease.
If there is an abnormality found in any one test, there is a possibility of early hydroxychloroquine retinopathy. You will be advised if any further or repeated tests are necessary and when you should be screened again. You should be reassured that the screening of your eyes for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy is very likely to pick up the earliest evidence of definite retinopathy.
At this point, the Optometrist will inform the prescribing specialist to consider an alternative medication or treatment. In cases of possible retinopathy, you will be recommended to continue taking hydroxychloroquine. The ceasing or adjustment of your hydroxychloroquine medication will be discussed between you, your General Practitioner, and your prescribing doctor.
What to do if you are worried about your vision?
If at any time, you notice a change in your vision you should make an appointment to see one of our Specialist Optometrists as soon as possible. If you are abroad at the time of noticing visual changes, please contact us so we can best advise you.
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE EYE SCREENING DURATION: ALLOW 60 MINUTES
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE EYE SCREENING COST: £180
(UPGRADE TO INCLUDE EYE EXAMINATION £40)