What is Plaquenil?
Plaquenil is a medication that is used primarily for preventing or treating malaria. However, it is also used in the treatment of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjoegren's syndrome, and other inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases.
What Type of Eye Problems Can Plaquenil Cause?
Although the incidence of eye problems caused by Plaquenil is infrequent, its visual impact can be devastating. One of the most concerning Plaquenil side effects is retinal damage. Patients who suffer from retinal damage due to Plaquenil are usually not able to detect their condition at first. Unfortunately, it may not be identified until there is considerable amount of permanent damage. Vision loss typically is permanent, with little significant improvement, and may continue to progress even years after drug cessation. Therefore, it is necessary that you come in for a yearly eye exam to identify early macular damage prior to irreversible vision loss.
What Happens During a Plaquenil Eye Exam?
Patients starting treatment with Plaquenil should have a baseline eye examination within the first year of taking this medication and then regular screenings thereafter. A Plaquenil screening may include a visual field test, OCT imaging, dilated fundus examination and photos of your eye. If there are any signs of damage to your retina, your optometrist may ask you to consult with your primary care physician to see if you should continue taking the drug. This may help reduce the amount of permanent vision loss.