Risk of hydroxychloroquine retinopathy in the community

Jesse Y. Dabit, Mehmet Hocaoglu, Kevin G. Moder, Andrew J. Barkmeier, Wendy M. Smith, Thomas J. O'Byrne, Cynthia S. Crowson, Alí Duarte-García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: We aimed to estimate the risk of HCQ retinopathy and its risk factors among incident users in the community. METHODS: Using the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a record-linkage system, a cohort of incident users of HCQ was identified from 27 counties in the American upper Midwest. HCQ retinopathy was defined based on characteristic paracentral automated 10-2 visual field (10-2 AVF) defects and parafoveal retinal photoreceptor layer changes on spectral domain optical coherence tomography. Cumulative incidence rates were estimated adjusting for competing risk of death. Risk factors for HCQ retinopathy were examined using Cox models. RESULTS: The study included 634 incident HCQ users (mean age at initial HCQ use was 53.7 years, 79% females, 91% white). Most common indications for HCQ were RA (57%) and SLE (19%). The average follow-up length was 7.6 years. Eleven patients developed HCQ retinopathy (91% females, 91% white). The majority used HCQ for RA (91%). The cumulative incidence rate at year 5 was 0%, which increased to 3.9% (95% CI 2.0, 7.4) by 10 years. Taking an HCQ dose ≥5 mg/kg was associated with a hazard ratio (HR) of 3.59 (95% CI 1.09, 11.84) compared with lower doses. There was a 48% increase [HR 1.48 (95% CI 1.03, 2.14)] in the risk of HCQ retinopathy for each 100 g of HCQ cumulative dose. CONCLUSION: The risk of HCQ retinopathy at 10 years of use is lower compared with previous prevalence-based estimations. A dose ≥5 mg/kg was associated with higher HCQ retinopathy risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3172-3179
Number of pages8
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2022


  • epidemiology
  • HCQ
  • incidence risk
  • retinopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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