What is Plaquenil?
Plaquenil, or hydroxychloroquine sulfate, is a medication used to treat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or Sjogren’s syndrome. It helps control symptoms associated with inflammation, such as joint pain, mouth or skin sores, and rashes.
But a side effect of Plaquenil is it can damage your eye’s retina, which is tissue near the back of your eyes associated with light sensitivity. Long-term Plaquenil use and retinal damage can lead to vision loss.
What is Plaquenil screening?
Vision loss associated with Plaquenil is permanent, which is why routine Plaquenil screenings are important.
Seeing Dr. Reddy and her team regularly for screenings can detect retinal problems early before serious vision problems occur, as you might not notice early symptoms until permanent vision loss is present.
What are the risk factors for Plaquenil-related retinal damage?
You’re at risk of retinal damage from Plaquenil if you:
Take high doses of Plaquenil
Have been taking Plaquenil for five years or more
Already have retinal disease
Are over 60 years old
Have liver or kidney disease
Your risk of retinal damage also increases if you’ve lost a lot of weight while taking Plaquenil.
How often should I get screened?
If your doctor prescribes Plaquenil to reduce inflammation, see Dr. Reddy and her team before you begin taking the medication for a baseline assessment.
Schedule eye exams each year while taking Plaquenil or every six months if you’ve taken the medicine for five years or longer.
What should I expect during Plaquenil screening?
During Plaquenil screening, Dr. Reddy reviews your medical history and completes a comprehensive eye exam to detect signs of retinal damage.
She may complete visual field tests, optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging, other imaging procedures, or multifocal electroretinography (ERG) to analyze retina structure and function. You might look through special lenses during vision exercises.
After your Plaquenil screening, Dr. Reddy lets you know if you have retina damage. If so, you should stop Plaquenil treatment and your primary care doctor can find another treatment for your chronic disease.
Dr. Reddy offers vision correction and minor surgical procedures to repair retinal damage or your vision when necessary.
If you’re taking Plaquenil, don’t neglect your eyes. Schedule routine Plaquenil screenings with Athena Eye Institute over the phone or online today.