Intravitreal injections are injections of medication into the vitreous (‘jelly’) of the eye. They are used to treat a number of retinal conditions, including Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Diabetic Retinopathy, Retinal vascular occlusions and ocular inflammatory diseases.
The most common medication injected is Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (anti-VEGF), which inhibits abnormal blood vessels in the retina and associated bleeding and leakage of fluid. These injections help to stabilise vision and in many cases improve vision.
Frequently asked questions:
- How often do I need these injections?
For most retinal conditions, treatment is usually commenced with 3 intravitreal injections one month apart. After this depending upon the response to injections, a ‘Treat & Extend’ or ‘As Required’ protocol is followed. For ‘Treat & Extend’, the interval between injections is often gradually increased or reduced depending on disease activity. For ‘As Required’ treatment, the ophthalmologist will establish a timeframe for review with treatment given on the day of the appointment if necessary.
- Do the injections hurt?
Intravitreal injections are given with a very fine needle. The eye is thoroughly anaesthetised with drops and in some cases an injection on the surface of the eye. You may feel some slight pressure with the injection, but there is usually minimal discomfort.
- How are the injections given?
After anaesthetic, the eye in thoroughly cleaned to minimise the risk of infection. A small clip is used to keep the eye open. The injection is given through the white part of the eye (sclera) and is usually over within a few seconds.
- What can I expect afterwards?
The eye may feel slightly irritated for a few hours after the injection and you may be asked to use topical lubricants. There may be a small bruise/red spot at the site of injection. Vision is usually unchanged after the injection but can improve in the next few weeks.
- What are the risks of intravitreal injections?
Intravitreal injections are a very safe procedure and are the most commonly performed procedure in ophthalmology. However there are very small risks associated with intravitreal injections including intraocular infection (less than 1 in 1000), increased eye pressure, lens/retina damage.