Today Intravitreal injections are commonly used to treat retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, macular edema, and retinal vein occlusion. These diseases may cause loss of vision and should be treated as early as possible. Anti-VEGF medications such as Lucentis(ranibizumab), Avastin(bevacizumab), and anti-inflammatory medications triamcinolone and dexamethasone can be injected directly into the eye to help patients maintain their vision and keep vision loss at a minimum. Some patients may see an improvement in their vision from these injections as well, depending on the condition being treated.
Intravitreal injections are especially effective, because the delivery of the drug into the vitreous allows for rapid absorption into the retina. This also allows for a very small amount of the drug needed to be effective as compared to delivery via the mouth or intravenously. The use of Intravitreal injections for wet macular degeneration began in 2005 (See new treatments) and has become the most effective method for treating wet age-related macular degeneration, which, although less common than the dry form, accounts for more than 90% of blindness caused by the disease.
This procedure is performed in your doctor’s office and requires only a local anesthetic. Before the medication is injected, the eye is numbed with anesthetic eye drops to help minimize discomfort. The eye is then cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The medication is then injected directly into the eye. Intravitreal injections may be administered as frequently as once a month, depending on the condition being treated, in order to maintain eye health and optimize the vision. Patients may experience some pain or scratchy sensations after the injection. Sometimes, patients can develop conjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding on the surface of the white of the eye), floaters, increased eye pressure and inflammation of the eye. These side effects typically resolve spontaneously or can be treated with eye drops. Other less common risks include infection, bleeding in the eye, retinal tears or detachment, and cataract formation.
If you are interested in learning more about intraocular injections, please call us today to schedule an appointment.