Subjective and objective screening tests for hydroxychloroquine toxicity

Catherine Cukras, Nancy Huynh, Susan Vitale, Wai T. Wong, Fredrick L. Ferris, Paul A. Sieving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objective To compare subjective and objective clinical tests used in the screening for hydroxychloroquine retinal toxicity to multifocal electroretinography (mfERG) reference testing. Design Prospective, single-center, case control study. Participants Fifty-seven patients with a previous or current history of hydroxychloroquine treatment of more than 5 years' duration. Methods Participants were evaluated with a detailed medical history, dilated ophthalmologic examination, color fundus photography, fundus autofluorescence (FAF) imaging, spectral-domain (SD) optical coherence tomography (OCT), automated visual field testing (10-2 visual field mean deviation [VFMD]), and mfERG testing. We used mfERG test parameters as a gold standard to divide participants into 2 groups: those affected by hydroxychloroquine-induced retinal toxicity and those unaffected. Main Outcome Measures We assessed the association of various imaging and psychophysical variables in the affected versus the unaffected group. Results Fifty-seven study participants (91.2% female; mean age, 55.7±10.4 years; mean duration of hydroxychloroquine treatment, 15.0±7.5 years) were divided into affected (n = 19) and unaffected (n = 38) groups based on mfERG criteria. Mean age and duration of hydroxychloroquine treatment did not differ statistically between groups. Mean OCT retinal thickness measurements in all 9 macular subfields were significantly lower (<40 μm) in the affected group (P < 0.01 for all comparisons) compared with those in the unaffected group. Mean VFMD was 11 dB lower in the affected group (P < 0.0001). Clinical features indicative of retinal toxicity were scored for the 2 groups and were detected in 68.4% versus 0.0% using color fundus photographs, 73.3% versus 9.1% using FAF images, and 84.2% versus 0.0% on the scoring for the perifoveal loss of the photoreceptor ellipsoid zone on SD-OCT for affected and unaffected participants, respectively. Using a polynomial modeling approach, OCT inner ring retinal thickness measurements and Humphrey 10-2 VFMD were identified as the variables associated most strongly with the presence of hydroxychloroquine as defined by mfERG testing. Conclusions Optical coherence tomography retinal thickness and 10-2 VFMD are objective measures demonstrating clinically useful sensitivity and specificity for the detection of hydroxychloroquine toxicity as identified by mfERG, and thus may be suitable surrogate tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)356-366
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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