Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine) Eye Screening

Plaquenil, also known as hydroxychloroquine, is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) used to reduce inflammation and decrease pain caused by certain forms of arthritis and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Patients using plaquenil may experience important but rare side effects that affect the eyes, including damage to the retina (back of the eye), cornea (front of the eye), and eyelids. These side effects typically occur on high doses of the medication and increase with duration of use.

While the majority of patients do not experience any eye problems, it is important for all patients to have their central vision regularly checked and screened by an ophthalmologist, as per consensus guidelines for drug monitoring, especially after 5 years of use of the medication. If there are any changes in vision, patients should see their rheumatologist or ophthalmologist immediately. The changes are irreversible, so early detection is the key.