Intravitreal injection of a drug is a very common and effective treatment option for a number of eye conditions, including wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinal vein occlusions and diabetic retinopathy. These treatments have been a minor miracle in improving the outlook for patients with these conditions, particularly when the problem is caught early. They are very effective at preventing further vision loss and the vision improves in a significant proportion of patients.
The injection is always done with anaesthesia to make the process as comfortable as possible. The anaesthesia is typically in the form of eyedrops, gel, or occasionally a small injection under the conjunctiva. The injection is performed under sterile conditions and is delivered into the vitreous cavity of the eye. As the injection is done from the side, it is typically not seen by the patient. The whole procedure is most often painless, but there can be some mild discomfort during it and for a few hours after. There is commonly a floater in the vision for a day or two after the injection, which is the drug inside the eye, or occasionally some tiny air bubbles. This is not a problem.
Like all drugs, the effect wears off over time and hence it is very common to need repeat intravitreal injections. The most common drugs that are used for intravitreal injection are Lucentis, Eylea, Beovu, Avastin, Triamcinolone, and Ozurdex.
Intravitreal injections occur when drugs are injected into the cavity of the eye. They are a very common form of treatment for retinal problems like macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and vein occlusions.
- The eye is anaesthetised.
- The eye is cleaned with antiseptic.
- A speculum is used to keep your lids apart.
- The drug is injected into the eye.
This process usually takes less than 5 minutes.
After the procedure:
* Patients often experience some grittiness for 1-2 days. This is the result of the anaesthetic and antiseptic. You may use some lubricant drops for this, but it is best not to touch the eye if possible.
* Redness: Occasionally a vessel on the white part of the eye (sclera) bleeds. This leads to a “subconjunctival haemorrhage”. This is like bruising of the eye. It will resolve over the next 1-2 weeks with no problems.
* Specks in the Vision
This represents air bubbles in the medicine. They are quite common and will disappear in 1-2 days.
The likelihood of these occurring are very low. They include:
- Infection (which usually presents a few days after an injection
- Internal bleeding (which typically resolves spontaneously)
- Retinal detachment
If you suspect a serious problem, please advise your doctor ASAP. If you are unable to contact your doctor or the Outlook office, it is best to make your way to the Emergency Department at Gold Coast University Hospital for assessment by an Ophthalmology Registrar. (Private hospitals do not have an Emergency Ophthalmology service).