With a disease like COVID-19, it's easy to believe reports of potential cures like hydroxychloroquine (also known by Plaquenil). There have been 'stories' of successful treatment by the drug, but 'stories' aren't rigorous clinical trials (which none have been completed). Some of these reports have been discredited because they were small and didn't include control groups, carefully selected untreated patients who matched the experimental groups. Clinical trials are necessary because they are designed to determine: safety, efficacy, dosage, applicable age groups, side effects as well as other important medication qualities. Hydroxychloroquine is a decades old drug that was initially used to treat malaria. Today it also treats autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Some side effects of prolonged, or incorrect, Plaquenil use include heart problems, blood disorders, and irreversible vision changes (called chloroquine retinopathy). What happens is some of the medication binds, and collects, around a critical part of the retina called the macula. That area is responsible for the majority of your perceptible vision and color vision. As the drug accumulates over time, that part of the retina starts dying off, creating a "bulls-eye" that can only be detected by an eye exam. Because of this very serious side effect, long-term usage should be closely monitored by an eye doctor. And since there is no treatment for chloroquine retinopathy, any retinal changes will result in immediate discontinuation of Plaquenil. Occasionally, retinal damages still occur despite stopping the medication.
If you can get, or are currently being prescribed hydroxychloroquine, DON'T start or change your dosage without a doctor's approval. Under regular circumstances, if you're taking Plaquenil we can monitor your vision status, but unfortunately we're closed for the whole stay-at-home order. Once we're open we'll be there to service all of your eye needs. Call, text, or email us if you have questions, 409-877-9682; firstname.lastname@example.org