Plaquenil® (hydroxychloroquine), an anti-malarial medication, is often used to treat inflammatory or autoimmune disorders like lupus, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune conditions occur when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, causing vulnerability to infections.
Among the disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), Plaquenil reduces the immune system’s response to potential infections, but in some cases, it can cause permanent vision damage. This side effect hasn’t always been noticed or diagnosed despite warnings. Some doctors and eye care specialists haven’t checked Plaquenil patients regularly for toxic damage to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
At the recommended dose, Plaquenil retinal toxicity is rare. It might not always cause symptoms, especially in its early stages. Toxicity symptoms can include:
- skin rashes
- blurred vision
- color changes in vision
- seeing halos or streaks of light
These side effects can mainly harm patients who take high dosages, who have lost weight while on Plaquenil, have used it for five years or more, or who already have retinal damage or kidney or liver disease. Elderly patients may seem to be at higher risk, however, a recent study found no major links between age and the potential for retinal toxicity.
If you take Plaquenil, have an ophthalmologist (an eye disorder specialist), check your retinas regularly before serious vision damage occurs.
Berman & Simmons is handling claims involving people who took Plaquenil and suffered complications. If you think you have a Plaquenil toxicity case, contact us today.