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From the JAMA Network
February 24, 2015

Hydroxychloroquine and the Retina

Author Affiliations
  • 1Byers Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
  • 2Department of Ophthalmology, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Redwood City
JAMA. 2015;313(8):847-848. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.14558

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate is widely prescribed in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, and related autoimmune diseases, and it has largely superseded the use of chloroquine phosphate for these conditions. Furthermore, hydroxychloroquine is now being evaluated for other medical uses, including control of blood glucose levels and as an adjunct to chemotherapy for cancer. Although hydroxychloroquine has relatively few systemic adverse effects, a specter of potential retinal toxicity hangs over its use, and regular screening is necessary to detect early changes in the retina before vision is compromised.1 The study by Nika et al2 in JAMA Ophthalmology shows that despite the risk of toxicity, many patients using hydroxychloroquine for SLE and related disorders are still not seeing eye care professionals or getting appropriate diagnostic tests. This is a wake-up call to physicians who prescribe this drug.