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  • Eye Injections

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    Reviewed By J Kevin McKinney, MD
    Aug. 26, 2022

    If your ophthalmologist says you need eye injections, you may be anxious about the thought of having a needle placed in your eye. Called “intravitreal” injections, these shots deliver medication directly into your eyeball to treat certain conditions such as diabetic eye disease, AMD and retinal vein occlusion. Medication injections improve vision for many people and are a valuable tool for helping to save sight.

    To help you feel less anxious about your eye injections, here are some things to know about the procedure.

    What To Expect During an Eye Injection

    So what should you expect if your ophthalmologist recommends an eye injection?

    1. An anesthetic will numb the surface of your eyeball so you don’t feel pain. The anesthetic may be given in eyedrop or eye gel form. Sometimes you might get a small injection of numbing medicine.
    2. An antiseptic will be placed on your eye and eyelids to help prevent infection from bacteria near the eye.
    3. Your ophthalmologist will need to keep your eye open during the injection to help prevent infection from bacteria on the eyelid. Your eye doctor will do this by simply holding the eyelids open or by using a small device called a speculum.
    4. Your ophthalmologist will ask you to look in a certain direction so that they can inject medicine in a specific part of the eye.
    5. The needle is very thin, and most people only feel pressure and usually not a sharp sensation. The injection is placed through the white part of your eye.

    After the injection is given, your ophthalmologist will clean your eye to remove the antiseptic. They will also check the eye to make sure there are no problems or complications. The typical injection process itself usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish (although your visit may be longer due to other activities like having your eyes dilated or speaking with the ophthalmologist).

    What to Expect After an Eye Injection

    For a few hours, you may have some eye irritation. You could also have a spot of blood on the eye (called a subconjunctival hemorrhage) at the injection site. This happens rarely and usually clears up within a week.

    Fortunately, complications after eye injections are rare. But you should call your ophthalmologist if you have any of the following signs or symptoms: