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Intravitreal Injection For Macular Degeneration

What is 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.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that commonly results in the gradual loss of central vision. Central vision enables us to see everything that is in front of us; however when someone has AMD this central vision becomes increasingly blurred and loses sharpness, which can make it hard for people to see fine detail. AMD often causes gradual loss of sight, though there are cases where the patients have noticed a rapid deterioration in their eyesight.

Wet AMD

Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessels located underneath the macula (responsible for central vision) damage the cells of the macula, which negatively impacts vision.

Intravitreal injection

If you have AMD, in particular wet AMD, you will most likely be offered an intravitreal injection. This involves injecting special medication, commonly anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF), into the jelly inside your eye. The medication spreads to the retina and other structures of the eye (see figure 1).

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A discussion with your surgeon will allow you to determine if an intravitreal injection is the most suitable option for you. Most patients will have to sit a course of injections before their vision starts to improve.

What are the alternatives?

Laser surgery is one alternative to treat AMD. However, the results are less desirable than those achieved through intravitreal injections. If you have AMD but decline the injection it is more than likely that your vision will continue to deteriorate. If not treated in a timely manner, the condition can cause permanent loss of vision in the eye.

The procedure

You will be required to lie down for the procedure. Before the injection is administered your surgeon will place local anaesthetics in the form of drops or a gel onto the affected eye, along with anti-bacterial and antibiotic drops. Using a needle, your surgeon will inject the medication through the white of your eye (sclera) and into the jelly. This injection will take around 30 seconds and you may feel a little discomfort once it has been delivered.

Are there any potential complications with this surgery?

Most surgical procedures carry some level of risk or possible complication. These will be discussed with you by your consultant or pre-assessment nurse prior to your procedure.

Recovery

Following your injection you will be required to rest for a while in a recovery area within the hospital. You should feel well enough to return home after an hour or so, though you must not drive yourself home. Just in case you were to suffer from any side-effects, it is important that someone looks after you for a day following the injection and that you constantly have a telephone nearby in case you need to make an emergency phone call. Everyone recovers at a different rate and your surgeon will be able to tell you when you can return to your normal daily activities. You should take at least 2 days off from work so that you can rest and recover.During the recovery process, avoid activities such as swimming as this can aggravate your eye and cause infection. You should try to move about as little as possible and keep your head up at all times, ensuring that you do not bend down so that your head is lower than your waistline. You must not lift heavy items. During the course of your injections you will see your surgeon on a regular basis. You must not drive until you are able to read a number plate from 67 feet away. Following the full course of injections, some patients find that their vision stabilises but does not improve. It is also possible for a patient’s vision to deteriorate if their condition is severe.

A healthy lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for overall wellbeing. If you smoke, stopping smoking will help to improve your health in the long run. Additionally, you should ensure that you are a healthy weight, as being overweight will negatively impact your health. Exercising on a regular basis is likely to improve your health but you should seek advice from your GP or other relevant health professional beforehand.

Summary

An intravitreal injection is commonly offered to people who have wet AMD and are unable to see fine detail. After a course of injection most patients will find that their vision is improved, or at the very least stabilised.

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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