Many retinal conditions are treated with intravitreal injections, which is when medications are delivered directly into the eye and vitreous using a needle. One of the most common types of drugs administered in this way is anti-vascular endothelial growth factors (anti-VEGFs). Anti-VEGF medications play an important role in fighting against the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina, a process known as neovascularization. These medications accomplish this by blocking the molecule that is responsible for the abnormal blood vessel’s growth. The most common anti-VEGF drugs are Avastin (bevacizumab), Lucentis (ranizumab), and Eylea (aflibercept).
When Are Anti-VEGF (Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea) Injections Needed?
Anti-VEGF medications such as Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea are considered to be standard treatments for a wide range of retinal and macular conditions where neovascularization is a concern. These conditions include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Diabetic macular edema
- Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
- Retinal artery and vein occlusion
Other Types of Intravitreal Injections
In addition to anti-VEGFs, other medications are sometimes injected directly into the eye. One example is Jetrea (ocriplasmin), which is used to treat the symptoms associated with vitreomacular traction. Vitreomacular traction occurs when the vitreous gel that fills the eye sticks to the macula. As we get older, the vitreous gel begins to diminish; if the vitreous has adhered to the macula, it can tug at the macula and cause blurriness and other visual distortions. Jetrea helps to prevent this from occurring by separating the vitreous gel from the macula.
Steroids are also sometimes administered via intravitreal injection to treat conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, vascular occlusive diseases, macular edema, and uveitis.
What to Expect From Intravitreal Injections
Many patients are understandably apprehensive about the idea of undergoing intravitreal injections; however, the procedure isn’t as scary or painful as it seems. The procedure is performed in-office and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Before beginning, the patient’s eyes will be numbed using special anesthetizing eye drops, which help to reduce pain and discomfort. The eyelid is held open, most often using a speculum, and the patient is instructed by the doctor to look in a different direction away from the needle. Patients sometimes experience the sensation of eye pressure during the injection itself, but otherwise little to no pain.
Recovery After Intravitreal Injections
After undergoing intravitreal injections, patients may have a small amount of eye irritation or a spot of blood in their eye. These are normal symptoms of recovery that should go away on their own quickly. After the procedure, it’s crucial that patients not touch their eyes.
Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea Injections in North Carolina
The physicians of North Carolina Retina Associates have extensive experience administering intravitreal injections and will do everything possible to make your experience as stress-free as possible.