Hydroxychloroquine May Pose Greater Eye-health Risk to People with Lupus Nephritis and Obesity
People with lupus nephritis (LN) and obesity (a body mass index, or BMI, ≥ 30) may have a greater risk of vision impairment when taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). According to a recent study, people with LN and obesity have higher blood levels of HCQ compared to people with LN who are not obese. High HCQ levels have been linked to retinopathy, an eye disease characterized by damage to the retina resulting in partial or complete loss of vision.
The researchers assessed blood levels of HCQ in 108 people with LN who were prescribed HCQ for at least three months. Roughly one-third of the study participants also had obesity. While, on average, people with obesity were prescribed a lower dose of HCQ than those without obesity, people with obesity still had significantly higher levels of HCQ in their blood. Additionally, researchers compared HCQ levels in people with and without obesity who were taking comparable amounts of HCQ and found people with obesity had significantly higher HCQ blood levels despite taking similar doses of the medication. T
he findings corroborate earlier research suggesting people with LN and a higher BMI are at an increased risk of developing HCQ toxicity and consequently retinopathy, underscoring the importance of cautious medication management and health monitoring. Consult your physician before making any changes to your medication. Learn more about protecting your eyesight when taking HCQ (Plaquenil®).