Intravitreal injections are a type of injection that is delivered directly into the vitreous humor, which is the gel-like substance that fills the center of the eye. These injections are typically used to treat a variety of eye conditions that affect the retina, including:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a condition that causes the center of the retina to deteriorate, leading to vision loss.
- Diabetic retinopathy – a condition that occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision loss.
- Retinal vein occlusion – a blockage of the veins that carry blood away from the retina, leading to vision loss.
- Macular edema – swelling in the macula, the central area of the retina, that can occur as a result of AMD, diabetic retinopathy, or retinal vein occlusion.
During the procedure, the eye is numbed with a local anesthetic, and the injection is delivered through the white part of the eye (sclera) using a very fine needle. The injection usually contains medication, such as anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs or steroids, which help to reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the retina.
Intravitreal injections are typically performed on an outpatient basis and take only a few minutes to complete. Patients may experience some mild discomfort or irritation after the injection, but this usually subsides within a few hours. It is important to follow the post-injection care instructions provided by the eye doctor, which may include avoiding strenuous activity for a few days and using eye drops to prevent infection. Regular follow-up appointments will also be necessary to monitor the progress of the treatment.