Collaboration and Communication Improve Eye Care for Children Taking Hydroxychloroquine
New research finds communication, both across a person’s healthcare team and between patients and providers, is highly important to improve eye screenings among children treated with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). HCQ, also known by the commercial drug name Plaquenil®, is often used to treat adults and children with lupus. Though uncommon, eye disease and vision loss or impairment can result from the treatment, and there is a lack of standardized guidance around eye screenings for children receiving the medication.
To address this gap and improve eye screenings among children taking HCQ, researchers collaborated with pediatric rheumatologists and ophthalmologists, nurses, a pharmacist and other experts to create institutional screening recommendations for a pediatric population. Once guidelines were developed, the team worked together to:
- Make rheumatology and ophthalmology providers aware of the eye screening guidelines
- Educate patients and their families about HCQ’s potential impact on eye health and available screening recommendations
- Improve communication between patients/patients’ families and their eye care providers
- Support pre-visit planning with rheumatologists, ophthalmologists and their staff to facilitate same-day eye exams and follow-up appointments
Researchers found one-third of the children included in the study were at high risk for HCQ retinopathy. In September 2017, before these interventions were initiated, 65% of pediatric patients were scheduled for eye exams as recommended. By February 2019, 85% were receiving recommended eye care, and this improvement was sustained through the end of the study.
Eye health is one important aspect of living well with lupus, and the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) is proud to support research in this area, including through the Gina M. Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship (Finzi) award grant program. Learn about LFA grant recipient Marilyn Allen’s study to improve eye safety for those taking HCQ and ways to protect your eyesight when taking Plaquenil.