Detection of Hydroxychloroquine Retinal Toxicity by Automated Perimetry in 60 Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients with Normal Fundoscopic Findings

  •  Qader Motarjemizadeh    
  •  Naser Samadi Aidenloo    
  •  Mohammad Abbaszadeh    


Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is an antimalarial drug used extensively in treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Retinal toxicity is the most important side effects of this drug. Even after the drug is discontinued, retinal degeneration from HCQ can continue to progress. Consequently, multiple ophthalmic screening tests have been developed to detect early retinopathy. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the value of central 2-10 perimetry method in early detection of retinal toxicity. This prospective cross-sectional investigation was carried out on 60 rheumatoid arthritis patients, who had been receiving HCQ for at least 6 months and still were on their medication (HCQ intake) at the time of enrollment. An ophthalmologist examined participants using direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy. Visual field testing with automated perimetry technique (central 2-10 perimetry with red target) was performed on all included subjects twice in 6 months interval: The first one at the time of enrollment and the second one 6 months later. Males and females did not show any significant difference in terms of age, duration of therapy, daily and cumulative HCQ dose, anterior or posterior segment abnormalities, hypertension, body mass index, and best corrected visual acuity. Anterior segment was abnormal in 9 individuals including 3 subjects with macular pigmentary changes, 4 individuals with cataract and 2 cases with dry eyes. Moreover, 12 subjects had retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) in their posterior segments. After 6 months, depressive changes appeared in 12 subjects. Additionally, HCQ therapy worsened significantly the perimetric results of 5 (55.6%) patients with abnormal anterior segment. A same trend was observed in perimetric results of 6 (50.0%) subjects with abnormal posterior segments (P=0.009). The daily dose of HCQ (P=0.035) as well as the cumulative dose of hydroxychloroquine (P=0.021) displayed statistically significant associations with perimetric results. Central 2-10 perimetry is a useful method for early detection of HCQ retinal toxicity, but more comprehensive studies, with larger sample size, longer-term follow-up and more precise techniques are mandatory to confirm HCQ retinal toxicity.

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