About Intravitreal Injections 

Intravitreal injections are drugs that are injected into the eye to reduce swelling and capillary growth. Usually, the drugs belong to the “Anti-Vascular endothelial growth factor” group of medicines, so the treatment may be referred to as “Anti-VEGF” treatment. However, in some cases, steroid drugs may be injected instead.

Conditions Treated with Intravitreal Injections:

  1. Macular degeneration (specifically Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration)
  2. Diabetic Retinopathy
  3. Retinal Vein Occlusions

Generally, any retinal condition caused by new blood vessel growth and fluid leakage may benefit from injections.

How it Works:

When the anti-VEGF drugs are injected into the eye, they stop the growth of new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are bad because they grow abnormally and bleed into the eye. In some retinal diseases, the blood vessel growth is controlled by a growth factor called VEGF. Anti-VEGF medicines interrupt this process, which should slow the growth and any associated swelling. Steroids are only used in patients that don’t respond to anti-VEGF drugs.

What to Expect?

The exact steps of the treatment will depend on the hospital, but most include:

  1. Eye drops to dilate the pupil
  2. Anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye
  3. Cleaning the eye and surrounding skin to prevent infection (Your face may also be covered to keep the eye sterile)
  4. A device to hold the eye open during treatment
  5. An injection of anti-VEGF or steroid drugs
  6. Antibiotic drops

The injection will be delivered carefully using a very thin needle. Initially, you will need to get an injection every month. After the disease slows, the injections may be given less frequently or stopped entirely.

Side Effects & Complications:

Intravitreal injections are very safe. For some diseases, the drugs are so effective that doctors are using them instead of surgery. Side effects are rare, but they could include:

  • Eye irritation
  • Bleeding
  • Floaters (fuzzy black shapes that move across your field of vision)
  • Increased pressure in the eye
  • Infection

There is a small risk of systemic vascular complications particularly if you have any heart or blood pressure problems.

Will I be able to regain complete vision after the Intravitreal injection?

Intravitreal injections are used to treat many diseases that cause irreversible vision loss. They mainly work by preventing further damage and do not help regain the lost vision. Your vision may improve slightly in some cases, but there is no guarantee.

Do I have to undergo Intravitreal injection many times?

It depends on your response to the first injection treatment. If the problem persists, then a repeat injection may be required.

I have been advised to get an injection inside my eye. Where will they inject? Will it cause any problems?

Intravitreal injections are given through the white portion of the eye. You will be given anesthetic eye drops, so you should not feel any pain and the injection should not cause any problems.

Are there any side effects?

There are a few, but they are very rare. Injection treatment is a very safe procedure. In fact, you can go home on the same day as the treatment.