What is an intravitreal injection?
An intravitreal injection is a shot of medicine into the eye. Usually, topical drops or ointments are used to the deliver medications to the eye, but these are limited by their inability to penetrate deeply into ocular structures. Often, it is necessary to administer the medication directly into the eye by using an injection. The inside of the eye is filled with a jelly-like fluid referred to as the vitreous. During an intravitreal injection Dr. Khetpal injects medicine into the vitreous, near the retina at the back of the eye. A variety of medications may be administered through intravitreal injections, but commonly these are given to treat Age Related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Macular Edema, Uveitis or Retinal Vascular Occlusions.
How is the procedure done?
Firstly, the eye is thoroughly numbed and the patient sits facing up in a comfortable position. The patient’s eye and eyelids will be cleaned with an iodine solution to prevent the area from infection. A small device called an eye-lid speculum is placed to keep the eye lid open. Medicine is then injected into the eye with a small needle, often there is a sensation of pressure but not pain. Afterwards antibiotic ointment are placed in the eye.
What are the risks?
Like all medical procedures, intravitreal injections have risks. The side effects are rare and many can be managed. The greatest risk when performing an intravitreal injection is the risk of infection. The best way to prevent a possible infection is the use of the iodine solution to sterilize the eye and surrounding area. Other risks include bleeding in the eye, inflammation, increased pressure in the eye, among others. The highest level of precautions are taken to avoid these risks, however they are still possible and are important to consider when undergoing treatment.
Steps to take after the procedure
As mentioned, the greatest risk is the risk of infection, so it is recommended that patients avoid any water or liquid in the eye for 1 day after the injection and avoid swimming or hot tubs for 3 days. In addition patients are told to avoid rubbing the eye and to avoid heavy lifting for 1 day after the procedure. Eye drops should be used as directed. Please see the Injection Instruction Sheet PDF for additional information regarding what to do and avoid before and after your injection.
For more information please visit Medline Plus’ article on Intravitreal Injections