Hydroxychloroquine is a medicine that is effective in treating various long-term inflammatory disorders of the joints and skin. In general, it is a safe and cost-effective medication, particularly when compared to newer anti-inflammatory medicines which can more significant adverse effects on the body. However, some patients taking hydroxychloroquine, or a similar medication called chloroquine, can suffer permanent loss of vision due to the harmful long-term effect of hydroxychloroquine on the retina.
The Guideline, written with input for Rheumatology and Dermatology colleagues, is in response to the publication of evidence that shows that hydroxychloroquine retinopathy is more common than previously recognised. It makes specific recommendations regarding the techniques and timing of baseline and follow-up monitoring tests for both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine retinopathy, and further recommendations regarding the organisation of the monitoring programme and communication between ophthalmologists and prescribing clinician.