Scientific Journal Publications

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine Retinal Toxicity Consideration in the Treatment of COVID-19

Ruamviboonsuk, Paisan MD; Lai, Timothy Y. Y. MD, FRCOphth; Chang, Andrew PhD, FRANZCO; Lai, Chi-Chun MD§; Mieler, William F MD; Lam, Dennis S. C. MD||,∗∗; for Asia-Pacific Vitreo-Retina Society


The proposed doses of chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for treatment of COVID-19 (1000 mg/day for 10 days, CQ; 800 mg first day then 400 mg/day for 5 days, HCQ) in many guidelines worldwide, are considerably higher than the maximum recommended daily safe doses of both agents (≤2.3 mg/kg/day, CQ; ≤5.0 mg/kg/day, HCQ) for development of retinal toxicity. Irreversible retinal damage can occur if the exposure to the safe doses is >5 years. It is not known whether exposure to high doses over a short period of time can also cause the damage. We recommend that before prescribing CQ or HCQ, history of ocular disease should be obtained to avoid the prescription if appropriate. If either agent is to be used, routine baseline ocular examination is not absolutely necessary. Patients who do not have ocular disease should also be informed about the potential risk of retinal toxicity. Both agents, however, have not yet been proven to be beneficial to COVID-19.

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