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Long-term use of hydroxychloroquine can cause retinopathy, which may result in severe and progressive visual loss. In the past decade, hydroxychloroquine use has markedly increased and modern retinal imaging techniques have enabled the detection of early, pre-symptomatic disease. As a consequence, the prevalence of retinal toxicity in long-term hydroxychloroquine users is known to be higher than was previously estimated. The pathophysiology of the retinopathy is incompletely characterised, although significant advances have been made in understanding the disease from clinical imaging studies. Hydroxychloroquine retinopathy elicits sufficient public health concern to justify the implementation of retinopathy screening programs for patients at risk. Here, we describe the historical background of hydroxychloroquine retinopathy and summarize its current understanding. We review the utility and limitations of each of the mainstream diagnostic tests used to detect hydroxychloroquine retinopathy. The key considerations towards a consensus on the definition of hydroxychloroquine retinopathy are outlined in the context of what is known of the natural history of the disease. We compare the current screening recommendations for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy, identifying where additional evidence is required, and the management of proven cases of toxicity. Finally, we highlight the areas for further investigation, which may further reduce the risk of visual loss in hydroxychloroquine users.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Pharmacol

Publication Date





hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine retinopathy, optical coherence tomography, retinal imaging, retinopathy, screening, toxicity