Spectral domain optical coherence tomography as an effective screening test for hydroxychloroquine retinopathy (the “flying saucer” sign)
Eric Chen, David M Brown, Matthew S Benz, Richard H Fish, Tien P Wong, Rosa Y Kim, James C Major
Retina Consultants of Houston, The Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, USA
Purpose: While the long-term incidence of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) retinopathy is low, there remains no definitive clinical screening test to recognize HCQ toxicity before ophthalmoscopic fundus changes or visual symptoms. Patients receiving HCQ were evaluated with spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD OCT) to assess the feasibility of identifying HCQ retinopathy at an early stage.
Methods: Twenty-five patients referred for the evaluation of hydroxychloroquine toxicity underwent a comprehensive ocular examination, Humphrey visual field (HVF) perimetry, time domain OCT, and SD OCT. Some patients with screening abnormalities also underwent further diagnostic testing at the discretion of the treating providers.
Results: Five patients were found to have SD OCT findings corresponding to HCQ toxicity and retinal damage as seen by clinical exam and/or HVF perimetry. Two patients with advanced toxicity were found to have significant outer retina disruption in the macula on SD OCT. Three patients with early HCQ toxicity and HVF 10-2 perifoveal defects were found to have loss of the perifoveal photoreceptor inner segment/outer segment (IS/OS) junction with intact outer retina directly under the fovea, creating the “flying saucer” sign. While two of these three patients had early ophthalmoscopic fundus changes, one had none.
Conclusion: Outer retinal abnormalities including perifoveal photoreceptor IS/OS junction disruption can be identified by SD OCT in early HCQ toxicity, sometimes even before ophthalmoscopic fundus changes are apparent. SD OCT may have a potential complementary role in screening for HCQ retinopathy due to its quick acquisition and because it is more objective than automated perimetry.
Keywords: drug toxicity, hydroxychloroquine, photoreceptors, screening test, spectral domain optical coherence tomography
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