The injection of medications such as steroids, Lucentis®, or Avastin® into the eye has become common in the treatment of several retinal diseases, particularly diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and retinal vein occlusion.
Many patients are somewhat apprehensive when this treatment is offered, because injecting something directly into the eye sounds potentially unsafe or painful. However, this treatment is actually very well tolerated.
Intraocular injection takes place in the doctor’s office and has a rapid recovery time. Antibiotic drops may be prescribed for a few days before and/or after the procedure.
At the time of the procedure, the surface of the eye is anesthetized using eyedrops. An anesthetic injection may also be performed to ensure minimal discomfort. The eye is cleaned with an antiseptic solution, and a small wire speculum is used to hold the eye open during the procedure.
Most patients experience no discomfort during the procedure.
Later in the day, as the anesthetic wears off, the patient may experience some pain or an itchy sensation, which usually only lasts for a day or so. The eye may also appear red for several days due to superficial bleeding.
There are some risks of the procedure, such as infection, intraocular bleeding, or retinal detachment, but these are very uncommon, occurring in only about 1 in 1000 to 1 in 2000 injections. Furthermore, individual medications may have other side effects. Steroids, in particular, are known to increase the risk of cataract and glaucoma. In many cases, however, these injections are by far the best treatment option available.