HealthDay News — The overall risk for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy is 8.6% after 15 years, according to a study published online January 17 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ronald B. Melles, MD, from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Redwood City, and colleagues characterized the long-term risk for incident hydroxychloroquine retinopathy and assessed the influence of hydroxychloroquine dose within the first 5 years of treatment on this risk. Data were included for 3325 patients aged 18 years or older who received hydroxychloroquine for 5 or more years between 2004 and 2020 and underwent serial retinopathy screening.

The researchers found that 81 of the patients developed hydroxychloroquine retinopathy (56 mild, 17 moderate, and 8 severe), with an overall cumulative incidence of 2.5% at 10 years and 8.6% at 15 years. At 15 years, the cumulative incidence rates of retinopathy were 21.6, 11.4, and 2.7% for greater than 6mg/kg, 5 to 6mg/kg, and 5kg/mg or less, respectively. For moderate-to-severe retinopathy, the corresponding risks at 15 years were 5.9, 2.4, and 1.1%, respectively.

“We observed that the long-term risk for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy was greater in patients who received higher doses of hydroxychloroquine in the first five years of use,” the authors write. “With regular screening with spectral domain optical coherence tomography, most cases of retinopathy were detected in the mild, asymptomatic stage.”

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