During this procedure, a small amount of medication is injected into the eye under local anaesthetic. The drugs used in the eye are ranibizumab, aflibercept, bevacizumab or triamcinolone.
These injections are given in case of swelling of the central part of the retina (macular oedema) or in case of growth of new blood vessels on the retina. The medication has a temporary effect and must therefore be repeated regularly.
Ranibizumab and aflibercept were developed specifically for use in the eye and are subject to strict reimbursement rules. Bevacizumab is marketed as a chemotherapy and is used unlicensed in the eye worldwide. This means that the manufacturer has not conducted research into the effect of bevacizumab in the eye and has not registered the product for use in the eye. Ophthalmologists rely on extensive international scientific research and many years of experience to recommend the use of bevacizumab in the eye.
Triamcinolone is marketed for surgical use but, like bevacizumab, it is also used unofficially by ophthalmologists for intravitreal injections.
Bevacizumab and triamcinolone are not reimbursed by the health insurance fund.
You should not wear make-up around the eye on the day of the injection. If the eye is inflamed, you should inform the ophthalmologist and the injection may be postponed.
Intravitreal injections are performed under local anaesthesia, using drops administered just before the procedure. The eye and the skin around the eye are disinfected and a sterile cloth is placed over the eye. A spring is placed in the eye so that you cannot close it. Then the medicine is injected; normally you will not feel any pain.
After the injection, you can go home immediately. On the day of the treatment and the following day, you should not bathe or do anything that involves getting dust or dirt in the eye. In most cases, you will only feel a little discomfort during the injection. Your vision may be slightly reduced for a few hours after the injection. It is therefore not safe to drive a car. The eye may be slightly irritated and red. In this case, you can use artificial tears as often as necessary. We recommend that you use single-dose taps and not bottles that have been open for a long time. There may be a little bleeding in the white of the eye. This is not harmful and disappears after a few weeks.
You should contact us if the eye becomes red (redder than shortly after the injection) and painful and/or if vision is impaired.
Intravitreal injections are performed very frequently and, fortunately, complications are very rare. The most important complication is a bacterial infection of the eye. In this case, the eye is red (redder than shortly after the injection), painful and vision is reduced. Other possible side effects include inflammation, retinal detachment, vitreous detachment, bleeding in the eye, increased eye pressure, eye pain, allergic reactions, corneal damage and cataract. A complication can reduce vision and, very rarely, lead to blindness of the eye.