An eye with a blue iris and white crosshairs in the pupil

What are intravitreal eye injections?

Insight Eye Surgery provides patients with eye injections that involve injecting targeted treatments into the eye. The eye injection (also called an intravitreal injection or IVI) is a procedure where medication is injected inside the eye into the vitreous. The vitreous is the jelly-like substance that fills the inside of your eye.

Eye injections are most commonly used to treat retinal and macular conditions such as wet macular degeneration (also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD), diabetic retinopathy, diabetic eye disease and retinal vein occlusion. These conditions may require a long-term course of intravitreal injections to stop any swelling and bleeding. The injections work by reducing fluid leakage from blood vessels around the macula (the part of the eye responsible for central vision) with the aim of preventing, and potentially reversing, vision loss.

What would I need these injections for?

You can have early signs of macular disease without knowing it. However, when symptoms do appear, they can include:

  • difficulty with reading or any other activity which requires detailed central vision (despite wearing appropriate glasses)
  • distortion, where straight lines may appear wavy or bent
  • problems distinguishing faces
  • dark patches in the central vision.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should consult an eye health professional. Early detection and prompt intervention are crucial to saving sight.

Courtesy Macular Disease Foundation
Courtesy Macular Disease Foundation

The thought of having an eye injection can be concerning but by knowing and understanding what will happen can help enormously. It’s important to continue with treatment as long as your ophthalmologist recommends it. Stopping treatment early can put your sight at risk.

Intravitreal eye injections are a procedure performed in the eye clinic to deliver medication into the vitreous cavity. The drugs that are most commonly given include anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents (Eylea®, Lucentis ®), and corticosteroids. These medications treat retinal swelling and bleeding caused by macular degeneration, retinal vein occlusions, and diabetic retinopathy:

How often will I need the treatment?

The injections suppress the leakage for a period of time – they do not cure the condition entirely. Due to this, a course of injections is required. At the start of treatment, usually one injection per month is needed. It is important to attend all appointments while receiving injection therapy as this treatment will not work if you do not have the injection at a regular interval.

The length of time between injections, and how long you will need to stay on injection therapy will depend on the condition being treated, and how you respond to the treatment.

Are there any side effects?

Many people have no side effects at all. Common side effects of intravitreal injections include:

  • Redness in the area of the eye that was injected.
  • A sore or gritty sensation for one to two days. The lubricating drops will help to relieve this temporary discomfort.
  • Small round floating objects in your vision. These are air bubbles from the injection, and are harmless; they will disappear after a day.
  • An increase in eye pressure after injection therapy. This can be treated with eye drops or tablets

Are there more serious side effects?

Serious side effects of injection therapy are uncommon. They include bleeding or inflammation in the eye, subconjunctival haemorrhage, cataract, retinal detachment, infections inside the eye, and very rarely permanent loss of vision. These happen in less than one in 1,000 people. There is a very small increased risk of strokes and heart attacks – you should discuss the injections with your GP or cardiologist if you have had a stroke or heart attack in the previous three months.


Frequently asked questions about intravitreal injections

Important things to remember

It is recommended that you do not drive immediately after the treatment and instead have someone pick you up from the clinic.

Things to look out for:

If your eye becomes progressively more red and painful, or if your vision gets worse after injection therapy, this might indicate infection and normally occurs 5–7 days after the injection. Contact Dr Adams at Insight Eye Surgery on 07 3154 1515 (Brisbane) or 07 5345 5011 (Noosa) in business hours or attend your local hospital emergency department after hours.

Make an Appointment

To make a booking for a consultation or procedure, contact us here >>.
Please have on hand your:

  • Medicare card number
  • Health fund details (if applicable)
  • DVA/Pension/health care card details (if applicable)
  • Current referral letter

Further reading

There's lots of information available out there about Eye Injection Treatments. We've made it easier for you by collating it into our own info sheet for download.

Download the info sheet: Injection therapy (intra-vitreal injections) (PDF 655kb)

The Australian Macular Disease Foundation is also an excellent source of information about retinal diseases. Click here >>