Intravitreal Injection for Macular Degeneration
This page will provide you with information about an intravitreal injection for macular degeneration. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.
What is an intravitreal injection?
An intravitreal injection is where medicine is delivered into the inside of your eyeball (see figure 1). This method is most often used to treat wet, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), along with a number of similar conditions. AMD is a condition which damages the macula, which is in the centre of the retina in the eye. The retina is responsible for sensing light that enters the eye, and the macula enables you to see fine details. Patients being treated for AMD will often have to receive a course of injections over the period of a year or sometimes longer.
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An assessment will be made by your doctor to see if you are suitable to receive an intravitreal injection. If you are offered it, it is entirely your decision whether to have it or not.
Are there any alternatives to this procedure?
Laser treatment can provide a solution for AMD, however the results will not be as effective as an intravitreal injection. If you decide not to have the injection then your sight could get worse. If the issue is treated too late and/or you find that the retina is scarred, this can cause permanent loss of vision in the eye.
What happens during the procedure?
In most cases, you will be given local anaesthetic before the injection in the form of eye drops or a gel. Anti-bacterial eye drops and antibiotics will be placed on your eye by the surgeon, and they will then use a needle to inject the medicine into the jelly of the white part of your eye (sclera). This process takes around 30 seconds.
Risks and complications
Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.
How long will it take to heal?
You should expect to feel mild pain and discomfort for several hours following the injection. Most patients are able to return home after an hour of the procedure; however it is important that you ask someone else to drive you home. It is advised that you have someone stay with you for one day after your procedure and you should stay near a phone in case you need to contact the hospital urgently. Try not to move around too much following your procedure. The majority of patients who receive an intravitreal injection take a couple of days off work to rest. During this time, you should refrain from swimming, lifting heavy items or bending so that your head is below your waistline.
Your doctor will advise you on when you can return to your normal activities. Bear in mind that it can take a while, and several injections, before you notice an improvement in your eyesight. For this reason, you should not drive until you are able to read a number plate that is 20.5 metres in the distance. You will be required to make regular contact with your surgeon during the course of your treatment. Some patients may find that their vision only stabilises and does not improve. In severe cases of AMD, patients may find that their vision worsens.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent illness and speed up the recovery process. Having a balanced diet and ensuring that you are a healthy weight for your height and age is important for your wellbeing. You should seek advice from your consultant about exercising on a regular basis in order to improve your overall health.
An intravitreal injection is administered into the eye and is commonly offered as a solution for patients unable to see fine detail due to age-related macular degeneration.
References: EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.
The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
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