There are several eye diseases that can be treated by injection of special drugs into your eyeball. These diseases are diabetic retinopathy, AMD, infections in the eye, and, retinal vein occlusion. The drugs that can be used are Avastin, Lucentis, Eyelea, steroids, antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals. As the drugs are injected into the vitreous cavity of the eye, these injections are called “intravitreal injections”. It is now one of the most commonly done eye procedure worldwide.
Intravitreal injection is safe and painless
Many patients are often frightened at the thought of having a injection into their eye. It is actually not that bad and is less painful than having an injection in your arm. The needle that I use to inject the drugs is the smallest sized needle available(30 gauge) and the injection only takes less than 10 seconds. I also give anesthetic eye drops before hand. Many patients all over the world are having monthly injections of anti-VEGF drugs like Avastin, Lucentis, and Eyelea. It is very well tolerated and is very safe. Rare complications include infection in the eye, retinal detachment, bleeding in the eye, and glaucoma.
Prevention of infection is most important
To prevent infection after intravitreal injections, I use iodine to clean the eye throughly. Then, I use a special eye speculum to open the eyelid to prevent the eyelashes from contaminating the part of the eye that will be treated. I then prepare the drug that will be given. Before the giving the drug, I use a sterile cotton bud to move the skin of the eye (conjunctiva) away from the eyeball (sclera) and then give the injection. This means that after the drug has been given, the skin of the eye will move back over the site of the injection. This prevents the drug from coming back out and any bacteria from entering the eyeball. The patient has to use antibiotic eyedrops for 1 week. They are told to report back to me should they experience any pain or redness in their eyes as this could mean they have an infection. The overall risk of an infection is about 1 in 1000 cases. This is considered to be very small.
The most important factor is to have your treatment done by a trained retinal surgeon who can manage any complication arising from the intravitreal injection. Retinal specialists can also determine whether or not you need an injection and when the treatment has to be stopped or changed.
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