Eye Injections

Eye Injections

Injections are one of the most commonly performed procedures by retina specialists and are used to treat a wide variety of conditions from age-related macular degeneration to diabetic retinopathy. While some injections last a few weeks, many injections can last up to months or even years after administration.

What types of injections are offered?

Ocular injections are typically broken into two categories: intravitreal (inside of the eye) and sub-Tenon’s (around the surface of the eye). While the latter is usually used for inflammatory conditions, intravitreal injections are used to treat a wide variety of conditions. These include:

  • Exudative (wet) macular degeneration and its variants
  • Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema (fluid)
  • Ocular Inflammation
  • Ocular Infection
  • Macular Edema from Retinal Vein Occlusions

Our doctors will discuss if injections are right for you and how many/how often they should be administered.

What does the procedure entail? Is it painful?

The general procedure of intravitreal injections starts with several rounds of numbing drops and/or a numbing injection around the eye. The goal is to make the eye as comfortable as possible before the injection. Once the eye is appropriately numbed, an eyelid holder (speculum) is placed to keep the eyelids from closing during the procedure. This is also typically painless and helps to maintain the safety of the procedure. After the speculum is placed, betadine cleaning drops are placed on the eye surface to destroy any harmful bacteria. This may be followed by a small, metal caliper to measure the appropriate distance on the eye that the injection will be given. Then, the injection is administered into the eye and the eyelid holder is removed. This typically takes less than one second. Afterwards, clean water will be used to rinse the eye off so you are as comfortable as possible after the procedure.

Although you may feel slight pressure on the eye during the injection or a slight pinch, the overall procedure is very well tolerated. It is uncommon to have significant pain during or after the procedure. Patients may experience slight burning after the procedure, which is related to the betadine and not the injection itself. This will resolve within one day and is not long-lasting. Artificial tears can be used to help your symptoms of burning or itching.

You may notice a “jellyfish” floater in the eye after the injection. This is the medication and will usually resolve within a few minutes to hours. Although uncommon, microscopic bubbles may be present and look like a round “shadow” in the bottom of your vision. These also dissolve spontaneously and are not dangerous to the eye.

What are the risks and side effects?

The most significant risk of injections is infection. This is typically very small—ranging from 1/3000 to 1/5000 injections. We minimize this risk by carefully following a strict injection protocol as outlined above and making sure the eye surface is appropriately cleaned before the procedure.

Other risks can include mild pain or irritation and bleeding in or around the eye. Rare complications include retinal detachments and cataract formation.

Following the procedure, it is important to let our doctors know if you experience any worsening pain, vision, flashing lights, floaters or curtains. Please call the office ASAP with any of these and our doctors will discuss the appropriate next steps.