What Are Intravitreal Injections and Are They Painful?
The literal definition of intravitreal means “into the vitreous of the eye.”. It’s no wonder patients who require intravitreal injections are concerned about what intravitreal injections are and if they are painful. Intravitreal injections are what one might imagine, a shot of medicine in the eye. Intravitreal injections are considered the gold standard of treatment for many retinal diseases. Medication is directly placed into the space ofat the back of the eye called the vitreous cavity that is filled with a jelly-like fluid called the vitreous humor gel.
Certain medications will not reach the retina by eye drops or oral medications and will need to be injected directly into the eye. Usually, this procedure is performed when fluid has built up either in or underneath the retina. Drugs given by intravitreal injection are anti-VEGF, steroids, and antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal medications. Intravitreal injections that contain anti-VEGF most commonly treat chronic conditions of age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion. VEGF, also known as vascular endothelial growth factor, is a hormone that is released in the tissues that causes blood vessels to become porous, allowing fluid to leak, creating a growth of new, yet abnormal, blood vessels. Both anti-VEGF drugs and steroids help to reduce fluid leakage and inflammation related to retinal disorders. Antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal medications treat infections in the eye such as endophthalmitis and retinitis.
For intravitreal injections, your eye doctor will numb the eyes with anesthetic drops and inject a small amount of anesthesia on the outside of the eye in the spot where the injection is to be performed. The eye and eyelids will also be cleansed with a solution called povidone-iodine to kill any bacteria. Once the eye is prepped, an eyelid speculum will hold the eye open while the medicine is injected into the white part of the eye with a very small needle. In almost all cases the anesthesia eliminates any sensation of pain although some patients do feel some pressure as the injection is taking place. Sometimes patients experience some graying or blurring vision for up to five minutes after the procedure. The risks are very low with a complication rate of just one percent1%.
For a comprehensive eye exam complete with retinal imaging, contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or WEBSITE. Seeking early treatment can save your sight. Our team of highly skilled physicians and surgeons are committed to helping people with retinal conditions preserve and improve their vision so they can see for a lifetime.