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J Res Med Sci. 2019 Jun 25;24:55. doi: 10.4103/jrms.JRMS_704_18. eCollection 2019.

Role of optical coherence tomography in the early detection of macular thinning in rheumatoid arthritis patients with chloroquine retinopathy.

Author information

Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Faculty, University of Nis, Nis, Serbia.
University Medical Center, Ophthalmology Clinic, Nis, Serbia.
Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Faculty, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, Serbia.
Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Medical Faculty, University of Nis, Nis, Serbia.



Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are drugs that are primarily used for the treatment of malaria and are also recommended for treating connective tissue disorders, autoimmune diseases, and some dermatological and inflammatory diseases. Treatment with these drugs has potential risk for the development of retinopathy, clinically characterized by bilateral pigment changes in the macula, as one serious ocular complication. The aim of this research was to evaluate the parafoveal and perifoveal macular retinal thickness, as central foveal thickness in adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on chloroquine therapy using optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Materials and Methods:

In this cross-sectional study, 56 RA patients (56 eyes) were included and examined. All patients were treated with chloroquine (tablets resochin or delagil) at a dose of 250 mg/day without treatment with steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs. Patients were divided into two groups, namely, Group I patients - no visible changes in the macula (26 patients) and Group II patients- with visible changes in the macula (30 patients). The central fovea thickness and parafoveal and perifoveal retinal thickness in all quadrants were measured by OCT and compared in both groups.


There are a significantly higher number of eyes without thinning of the macula in Group I patients than in Group II (P < 0.001) patients. There are a higher number of patients with recorded parafoveal thinning in Group II patients, especially in the inferior, nasal, and temporal sectors, respectively (P < 0.05).


Maculopathy is the main side effect of chloroquine therapy in RA patients that can be detected by OCT in the early stages of the macular involvement.


Chloroquine; optical coherence tomography; retina; rheumatoid arthritis

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