What is an Intravitreal Injection?
An intravitral injection is an injection of a medication into the vitreous cavity. the vitreous cavity is in the middle of the eye. These injections are often used to treat diseases of the retina and vitreous and allow the medication to be placed much closer to where the disease is occurring. Intravitreal injections are currently the standard of case for diseases such as “wet” macular degeneration and endophthalmitis (infection inside the eye).
What kinds of medications are injected into the eye?
There are currently many medications that are used to treat various diseases of the retina and eye. Lucentis, an anti-VEGF agent, is used to treat “wet” macular degeneration. Avastin, another anti-VEGF agent, is used to treat many diseases such as “wet” macular degeneration, macular edema from various causes, and neovascular glaucoma. Steroids can be injected into the eye to treat macular edema or inflammatory diseases of the eye. Antibiotics can also be directly injected into the eye to treat endophthalmitis, which is an infection inside the eye.
What should I expect from an intravitreal injection?
Intravitreal injections are performed in your doctor’s office. The eye is the first anesthetized with an anesthetic eye drop or a local anesthetic placed under the skin of the eye. The eye is then cleaned with a betadine solution. A lid speculum is then placed to keep the eye lids open and the injection is then given through the white part of the eye called the sclera. Most patients do not feel the injection because of the anesthetic. The whole procedure typically takes 5 to 10 minutes.
What should I expect after the injection?
Most patients feel a mild irritation or burning sensation to the eye from the betadine (cleaning) solution. This feeling typically lasts less than a day. There may also be a small blood red spot on the sclera (white part of the eye) where the injection was given. This is called a subconjunctival hemmorrhage and is related to the injection. The red spot is harmless and typically goes away in less than 2 weeks.
Are there any risks to an intravitreal injection?
Although intravitreal injections are very safe, there are a few potential risks involved with the injections. Endophthalmitis (infection inside the eye) is a small risk associated with all injections. After the injection, if the eye becomes red and painful with decreased vision, you should see your doctor immediately. There is also a small risk of increased eye pressure, retinal detachment, and catact after various intravitreal injections depending on the medication used.