The Scientific and Medical Advisory Board to Retina International have issued a statement on the use of Chloroquine.
Chloroquine is an approved antimalarial drug that been found to be beneficial in the treatment of auto immune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The standard doses of chloroquine used for the treatment of malaria and other systemic diseases have few side effects. However, toxicity is encountered only when high doses are injected very rapidly into the bloodstream or taken as tablets in regular doses over many years. The most serious complications of chloroquine are retinopathy, cardiomyopathy, neuromyopathy and myopathy. The two typical adverse effects in the eyes are corneal disease and retinopathy. Chloroquine toxicity is of serious ophthalmologic concern because it is not treatable, also there have been cases of progression of visual loss in patients even years after cessation of treatment by chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine. Therefore it is important to be careful with its use. Especially patients with low weight (less than 50 kg) and renal disease should receive only doses adjusted to their weight.
Although it has been suggested that chloroquine can change the acidity at the surface of the cell, thereby preventing viruses such as COVID-19 from infecting it there is no consensus about whether chloroquine and other antimalarial drugs are safe and effective for treating COVID-19, as it is still very early in the testing process.
The Scientific and Medical Advisory Board of Retina International recommends that those affected by an underlying retinal dystrophy do not self-medicate with chloroquine and strongly advises patients to follow the advice of their healthcare provider prior to any use of chloroquine.
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