Selective thinning of the perifoveal inner retina as an early sign of hydroxychloroquine retinal toxicity

S. Pasadhika, G. A. Fishman, D. Choi, M. Shahidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate macular thickness profiles using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SDOCT) and image segmentation in patients with chronic exposure to hydroxychloroquine.MethodsThis study included eight patients with chronic exposure to hydroxychloroquine (group 1) and eight controls (group 2). Group 1 patients had no clinically evident retinal toxicity. All subjects underwent SDOCT imaging of the macula. An image segmentation technique was used to measure thickness of six retinal layers at 200 m intervals. A mixed-effects model was used for multivariate analysis. Results By measuring total retinal thickness either at the central macular (2800 m in diameter), the perifoveal region 1200-m-width ring surrounding the central macula), or the overall macular area (5200 m in diameter), there were no significant differences in the thickness between groups 1 and 2. On an image segmentation analysis, selective thinning of the inner plexiformganglion cell layers (P0.021) was observed only in the perifoveal area of the patients in group 1 compared with that of group 2 by using the mixed-effects model analysis.ConclusionOur study results suggest that chronic exposure to hydroxychloroquine is associated with thinning of the perifoveal inner retinal layers, especially in the ganglion cell and inner plexiform layers, even in the absence of functional or structural clinical changes involving the photoreceptor or retinal pigment epithelial cell layers. This may be a contributing factor as the reason most patients who have early detectable signs of drug toxicity present with paracentral or pericentral scotomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-763
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Ganglion cell
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • OCT
  • Parafoveal
  • Perifoveal
  • Retinal toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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