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      Dermatologists’ Adherence to the Latest Recommendations for Screening of Hydroxychloroquine Retinopathy in Saudi Arabia: Cross-Sectional Study

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          Abstract

          Background

          Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has been used to manage many inflammatory skin conditions. Nevertheless, retinopathy continues to be its most significant adverse effect. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends baseline ophthalmologic screening in the first year of HCQ treatment. However, a recent study found an inadequate awareness of the recommendations. Furthermore, limited data are available regarding the implementation of the recommendations among dermatologists.

          Objective

          The aim of this study was to assess dermatologists’ adherence to recommendations pertaining to their current practice regarding HCQ toxicity detection.

          Methods

          A self-administrated questionnaire was distributed between February 2 and May 4, 2018, among members of the Saudi Society of Dermatology. The questionnaire comprised demographic-related questions and questions pertaining to each physician’s routine practice about the follow-up of HCQ-treated patients.

          Results

          A total of 76 dermatologists completed the questionnaire. We achieved a response rate of 62.54%. More than half (43/76, 56%) of the dermatologists were male. Furthermore, more than half (41/76, 53%) of them reported treating 1 to 3 patients with HCQ during the last year. Furthermore, two-thirds (47/76, 61%) of them reported screening patients before initiating HCQ treatment. Regarding follow-up recommendations, 59% (45/76) of dermatologists reported yearly after starting treatment for no-risk patients, whereas 94% (72/76) reported “yearly within 5 years of treatment” for at-risk patients. Data were considered significant at P<.05. All analyses were performed using SPSS, version 20 (IBM).

          Conclusions

          Dermatologists in Saudi Arabia are not well informed about some aspects of the latest recommendations regarding screening for HCQ toxicity in terms of tests, follow-up timing, cessation of the drug, and causative agents. Therefore, we recommend conducting more studies in Saudi Arabia to determine the adherence of more physicians to the AAO recommendations. Furthermore, patient education regarding HCQ toxicity and increased patient awareness are recommended for effective and safe HCQ use.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Clinical efficacy and side effects of antimalarials in systemic lupus erythematosus: a systematic review.

          Antimalarial drugs (AMs), chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), are frequently withdrawn in patients with lupus with either severe or remitting disease. However, additional effects beyond immunomodulation have been recently described. The aim of the present work was to analyse all the published evidence of the beneficial and adverse effects of AM therapy in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A systematic review of the English literature between 1982 and 2007 was conducted using the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies were selected. Case reports were excluded except for toxicity reports. The GRADE system was used to analyse the quality of the evidence. A total of 95 articles were included in the systematic review. High levels of evidence were found that AMs prevent lupus flares and increase long-term survival of patients with SLE; moderate evidence of protection against irreversible organ damage, thrombosis and bone mass loss. Toxicity related to AMs is infrequent, mild and usually reversible, with HCQ having a safer profile. In pregnant women, high levels of evidence were found that AMs, particularly HCQ, decrease lupus activity without harming the baby. By contrast, evidence supporting an effect on severe lupus activity, lipid levels and subclinical atherosclerosis was weak. Individual papers suggest effects in preventing the evolution from SLE-like to full-blown SLE, influencing vitamin D levels and protecting patients with lupus against cancer. Given the broad spectrum of beneficial effects and the safety profile, HCQ should be given to most patients with SLE during the whole course of the disease, irrespective of its severity, and be continued during pregnancy.
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            Revised recommendations on screening for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine retinopathy.

            The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommendations for screening of chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) retinopathy were published in 2002, but improved screening tools and new knowledge about the prevalence of toxicity have appeared in the ensuing years. No treatment exists as yet for this disorder, so it is imperative that patients and their physicians be aware of the best practices for minimizing toxic damage. New data have shown that the risk of toxicity increases sharply toward 1% after 5 to 7 years of use, or a cumulative dose of 1000 g, of HCQ. The risk increases further with continued use of the drug. The prior recommendation emphasized dosing by weight. However, most patients are routinely given 400 mg of HCQ daily (or 250 mg CQ). This dose is now considered acceptable, except for individuals of short stature, for whom the dose should be determined on the basis of ideal body weight to avoid overdosage. A baseline examination is advised for patients starting these drugs to serve as a reference point and to rule out maculopathy, which might be a contraindication to their use. Annual screening should begin after 5 years (or sooner if there are unusual risk factors). Newer objective tests, such as multifocal electroretinogram (mfERG), spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), and fundus autofluorescence (FAF), can be more sensitive than visual fields. It is now recommended that along with 10-2 automated fields, at least one of these procedures be used for routine screening where available. When fields are performed independently, even the most subtle 10-2 field changes should be taken seriously and are an indication for evaluation by objective testing. Because mfERG testing is an objective test that evaluates function, it may be used in place of visual fields. Amsler grid testing is no longer recommended. Fundus examinations are advised for documentation, but visible bull's-eye maculopathy is a late change, and the goal of screening is to recognize toxicity at an earlier stage. Patients should be aware of the risk of toxicity and the rationale for screening (to detect early changes and minimize visual loss, not necessarily to prevent it). The drugs should be stopped if possible when toxicity is recognized or strongly suspected, but this is a decision to be made in conjunction with patients and their medical physicians. Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              The risk of toxic retinopathy in patients on long-term hydroxychloroquine therapy.

              Hydroxychloroquine sulfate is widely used for the long-term treatment of autoimmune conditions but can cause irreversible toxic retinopathy. Prior estimations of risk were low but were based largely on short-term users or severe retinal toxicity (bull's eye maculopathy). The risk may be much higher because retinopathy can be detected earlier when using more sensitive screening techniques.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Interact J Med Res
                Interact J Med Res
                IJMR
                Interactive Journal of Medical Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                1929-073X
                Oct-Dec 2019
                19 December 2019
                : 8
                : 4
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Dermatology Faculty of Medicine King Abdulaziz University Jeddah Saudi Arabia
                [2 ] Faculty of Medicine King Abdulaziz University Jeddah Saudi Arabia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Nouf Talal Mleeh Nmileh@ 123456kau.edu.sa
                Article
                v8i4e15218
                10.2196/15218
                6940859
                31855186
                ©Nouf Talal Mleeh, Nujood Abdulwahed Alzahrani, Jehad Osama Hariri, Hatan Hisham Mortada, Mohammed Ridha Algethami. Originally published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research (http://www.i-jmr.org/), 19.12.2019.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.i-jmr.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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