Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine have been used for more than 50 years to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other rheumatic diseases. In general, these drugs are well tolerated and rarely need to be discontinued because of an adverse systemic reaction. However, both medications can be irreversibly toxic to the retina. A new study indicates that toxicity is not as rare as once believed, but depends critically on daily dosage and duration of use, as well as other risk factors. With attention to dosage and other factors, and with proper screening for early signs of toxicity, HCQ can be prescribed with relative safety even over long periods of time.
Keywords: Antimalarials; Chloroquine; Drug toxicity; Hydroxychloroquine; Retinopathy; Systemic lupus erythematosus.