Intraocular injections (Eye Injections)

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Last updated 6/25/2020
Intraocular Injections, Assil Eye Institute

WHAT ARE INTRAOCULAR INJECTIONS? 

Over the last 10 years, Intraocular injections (also known as “intravitreal injections” and “eye injections”) have become the mainstay of treatment for many retinal diseases.

 

An intravitreal injection is a procedure performed to introduce medicine directly into (“intra-“) the gel-filled center of your eye (‘-vitreal”). It sounds quite scary, but in reality, it is very simple, it takes less than 10 seconds, and is virtually painless. 

 

This procedure is performed by a retinal specialist during a regular office visit. Intraocular injections are typically needed to treat many serious retinal conditions that can lead to vision loss. Because of this, they should be performed in a timely manner to help patients preserve their existing vision and keep future vision loss to a minimum.

What medications are given via eye injections?

 

Intravitreal injections are used to treat a variety of retinal conditions associated with vision loss, including wet macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion, among others.

 

Because the retina is the tissue lining the inside of the back of the eye, eye drops placed on the eye surface cannot reach this area effectively. That´s why injections are used to place the medicine directly at the site of the problem.

 

Medications administered within the eye include:

 

  • Anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) medicines are used to inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels prone to bleeding and leakage that are characteristic of diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and retinal vein occlusions.
  • Steroids may be administered to treat inflammatory conditions within your eye.
  • Anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal medications may be delivered directly into your eye to treat infections.

 

How are eye injections performed? Are they painful?

Although the thought of getting a needle stuck in your eye sounds terrifying to most people, it’s a nearly painless procedure that takes less than 10 seconds. These injections are so common that they are performed numerous times every day in our clinics. 


After you are seated comfortably in a reclining exam chair, eye drops or ointment will be placed into your eye to provide anesthesia. After a few minutes, when the eye is adequately numb, your retina doctor covers the eyelashes with a special instrument that gently touches your eyelid.


The injection site (a small area on the white of your eye on the temple side) is then cleaned with a mild betadine solution. Next, a small dose of medicine is introduced into the gel-filled center of your eye through a syringe with a very fine needle (the thickness of a piece of hair).


You may feel slight pressure, but no pain, during the injection. The needle is so tiny that it does not leave scarring or visible holes because the injection site is immediately self-sealing.


A mild saline solution is used to wash off the betadine solution that was used to clean your eye and also to gently lubricate your eye. No eye patch is needed and usually, there is no need for any antibiotic eye drops after this treatment.


If you are getting this treatment for the first time, you should arrange to have transportation home, because your vision may be somewhat blurred following the injection. Some patients may notice floating dots or tiny bubbles in the eye which will fade over the coming days to weeks.

 

How will I feel after getting an eye injection?

This is a relatively easy procedure for the great majority of our patients. The most common symptoms reported after this treatment are mild discomfort and irritation for a few hours after the anesthesia wears off—the eye may feel slightly achy, gritty and scratchy.


Discomfort, if present, is usually managed adequately with Tylenol. Most patients return to their usual activities the day after the procedure.


Some patients describe an itchy feeling or the urge to rub the eye. It´s very important to AVOID RUBBING YOUR EYE following this procedure because you can easily scratch the surface of your eye! The anesthetic eye drops and the betadine solution used to treat your eye can sometimes dry your eye´s surface layer (the cornea), making it vulnerable to being easily scratched.


While a scratch on the surface is not dangerous and heals within 24 hours, it can be very painful and causes redness, tearing, and temporary blurred vision. Luckily, this happens rarely, only in about 5% of patients.

 

Are there any complications or risks with getting an eye injection?

Complications following an eye injection are extremely rare -- one in two thousand patients may have an adverse reaction. A more common, but not serious complication happens in about 10% of injections, which is a small area of bleeding on the white of the eye near the needle entry point (conjunctival hemorrhage).


It’s just a small bruise from the needle, much like a bruise on your arm after a blood draw. While it looks alarming, it is not harmful to the eye and usually clears up within a week.


The most serious risks following an eye injection include:

• Getting an infection inside the eye
• Inflammation within the eye
• Bleeding inside the eye´s gel-filled center
• Retinal detachment

 

While all of these complications are treatable, they can all compromise your vision.

 

How many injections will I need?

The medications delivered to the inside of the eye have been proven to be very effective in the management of many illnesses for which previously there was no treatment available (such as wet macular degeneration).


Unfortunately, these medications are active in the eye only a certain amount of time, typically 4-8 weeks, after which their effect wears off and additional medication must be added to treat the retina. For this reason, injections may be needed as often as once a month for as long as the disease shows activity.


The schedule for injections and the time between treatments is determined for each patient based on their specific disease. It is extremely important to adhere to the treatment schedule to avoid delays and lapses in treatment that risk vision decline.

 

Schedule your consultation today to learn more about intraocular injections at Assil Eye Institute

 

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