What Are Intravitreal Injections?
Intravitreal injections are administered directly into the eye’s gel-like substance called the vitreous. They are commonly used to treat a wide range of diseases that affect the retina, vitreous, and macula – the central part of the retina responsible for central vision and performing tasks such as reading.
What Are the Benefits of Intravitreal Injections?
Intravitreal injections have emerged as the standard of care for many retinal conditions. By being administered directly into patients’ vitreous, medications can be rapidly absorbed into the retina, often at higher doses. In addition to increasing the overall efficacy of medication, intravitreal injections allow for individualized treatment regimens tailored to each patient’s specific condition and response, making it easy to adjust frequency and dosage based on a patient’s progress. Another major benefit of intravitreal injections is that they typically minimize side effects, compared to pills or systemic medications.
What Medications Are Given via Intravitreal Injections?
Intravitreal injections are often used to deliver a type of medication called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF). The purpose of these injections is to inhibit the formation of any irregular blood vessels.
Anti-VEGF Injections & Neovascularization
Anti-VEGF medications have become the standard treatment for retinal conditions involving neovascularization; with this process, new retinal blood vessels are produced, typically in response to disease or injury, serving to replace impaired or damaged blood vessels. Unfortunately, these new vessels are abnormal and fragile; instead of fixing the problem, they tend to leak fluid and bleed into the retina, causing a host of vision issues.
Neovascularization symptoms may include eye floaters, hazy vision, swelling, inflammation, light sensitivity, and reduce peripheral vision. If left untreated, certain complications may develop, including permanent blindness, eye loss, and retinal tears or detachment.* Fortunately, anti-VEGF medications inhibit those proteins that contribute to new blood vessel growth.
Among the conditions commonly treated are:
- Wet, or exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which represents more than 90% of blindness that may develop from this disease.
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy, in which diabetes increases blood sugar levels over time, weakening the walls of the retina’s tiny blood vessels
- Diabetic macular edema (DME), a diabetic retinopathy complication, involves the buildup of fluid or blood in the macula, as well as swelling; if left untreated, DME can lead to permanent vision loss
- Retinal artery and vein occlusions, which are blockages in the retinal blood vessels
If you are experiencing a sudden increase in floaters, flashes, shadows, blurriness in your peripheral vision, or a curtain appearing over part of your vision, seek medical care right away. Retinal tears and detachments are medical emergencies that need to be addressed as quickly as possible.
What to Expect When Injections Are Administered
We provide intravitreal injections in our office, and the process requires only a local anesthetic. Your eye will be numbed with anesthetic eye drops, which assist in helping to reduce discomfort. Next, your eye will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Then, the medication will be injected directly into the affected eye. Depending on your specific condition, intravitreal injections may be required on a monthly frequency.
Intravitreal Injections in Illinois and Indiana
Illinois Retina Associates is a leading retina-only ophthalmology practice in the Midwest devoted to diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of retinal, macular, and vitreoretinal conditions. Our retina specialists and surgeons are highly experienced in performing a wide array of advanced retinal treatments, including intravitreal injections. When you or a loved one visit our retina centers, rest assured that our experienced retina specialists and surgeons will develop a personalized treatment plan to ensure your recovery. Contact one of our 12 convenient locations today to schedule a consultation.