Of course, like many of the tests that we have for lupus, and the side-effects of the medication we take for it, (of which the ERG is one), it's a necessary evil. The test is done to detect any changes in the retina, in my case, due to the use of Plaquenil. My understanding is that it's not months on this drug that can cause changes, but rather, years.
I was on plaquenil for three years the first time around, before my opthamalogist detected some changes and recommended that I stop using the drug. It's hard to know what exactly those changes were, and if they were indeed from plaquenil, but my rheumatologist and I didn't question it. The opthamalogist saw something he didn't like, so we stopped using the medication. A few years later, I started the medication again, and have been successfully taking it for the past seven years, with no retinal changes detected at all.
But, like the rest of you who take Plaquenil, I do what I need to do to take care of my eyes. I visit my opthamalogist every six months to a year for regular checkups, and to take a visual field test (which happens to be another non-favorite of mine). And for the past few years, I've been making annual visits to a specialized opthamalogist who administers the ERG.
The last time I was in, I asked the nurse to take a picture of the computer screen that was recording the visual of my eye during the test. I hope this doesn't freak you out. If you remember, I can hardly even look at pictures of my own rashes, but this doesn't bother me. Probably because it doesn't even look like my eye - but rather, a ship from outerspace!
When my eye looked like this, my eyes were propped open with something like a thick contact lens, although it felt more like a big old monocle to me. Here's exactly what was happening:
How an ERG is done:Along those same lines, a frequent reader of my blog was kind enough to share another advancement in eye procedures - this time in regard to cataract surgery. You can read more about that here. Thanks, Jen, for sharing!
Below you can read a little bit more about an ERG. Enjoy!