Document Type : Original Article


Associate Professor of Rheumatology, AJA University of medical sciences,Tehran, Iran



Several studies have reported the possibility of ocular toxicity with the use of antimalarial drugs by patients with rheumatic diseases. Thus, the present study intended to investigate the prevalence of such toxicity in these patients and the feasibility of the regression of changes after medication discontinuation. The present retrospective study included the medical records of 598 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and mixed connective tissue disorders (MCTDs) who took chloroquine (CQ) or hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and underwent routine ophthalmologic examinations. Moreover, if a patient had any ocular abnormality reported by the examining ophthalmologist, he/she was referred to another ophthalmologist to confirm the primary findings. Also, the patients with abnormal ocular findings who discontinued the drugs were re-examined 12 months after the drug discontinuation to evaluate the rate of regression of the ocular changes. According to our findings, 81 out of 598 patients (13.6%) had ocular toxicity in routine ophthalmologic examinations. However, ocular changes were ruled out in 49 (8.2%) patients using a second examination by another ophthalmologist. Therefore, retinopathy was confirmed in 32 out of 598 (5.4%) cases. Moreover, the patients with eye complications were significantly older than those without ocular toxicity (P = 0.03), while no significant relationship was found between ocular toxicity and other variables. Finally, of 32 patients with ocular toxicity, 12 patients were re-examined 12 months after the drug discontinuation, revealing normal findings in 7 (58%) patients, while 5 (42%) had irreversible ocular abnormalities. According to our findings, the prevalence of HCQ- and CQ-induced retinopathy was quite considerable in patients receiving these drugs. Therefore, despite the current controversies, we recommend that all patients receiving antimalarial drugs undergo screening for ocular toxicity.


Main Subjects

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