Intravitreal Injections (Avastin, Eylea, and Lucentis)
One of the most commonly performed treatments for retinal and macular conditions is intravitreal injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medications. These medications are injected directly into the vitreous body and help to ease swelling by stopping or slowing the blood vessels from leaking or new blood vessels from forming.
When Are Anti-VEGF Intravitreal Injections Recommended?
Anti-VEGF injections are considered to be the standard form of treatment for a wide variety of retinal diseases. They are commonly used in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD)
- Advanced diabetic retinopathy
- Central retinal vein and artery occlusions (CRVO and CRAO)
- Branch retinal vein and artery occlusions (BRVO and BRAO)
- Diabetic macular edema
All of these conditions are characterized by neovascularization, a process in which the body generates new blood vessels. Although this process is a natural biological function that plays an important role in fetal development and as a response to ischemia, it can be problematic in the eye.
Neovascularization of the eye typically occurs because something has disrupted the retina or the eye’s vascular tissues from receiving the steady supply of oxygenated blood that they require to function correctly. When this happens, the body tries to self-correct the problem by growing new blood vessels. However, the new blood vessels that form are not normal, healthy, or strong. Instead, they are abnormal and very fragile. As a result, they leak and bleed into the retina, causing a wide range of vision problems.
Anti-VEGF medications help curb neovascularization by inhibiting the proteins responsible for triggering new blood vessel growth. The most commonly used anti-VEGF medications used in intravitreal injections are Avastin (bevacizumab), Eylea (aflibercept), and Lucentis (ranibizumab).
What to Expect When Getting Intravitreal Injections
The idea of getting intravitreal injections is intimidating for many patients, but luckily the process is much easier than it seems. First, the doctor will numb your eyes using anesthetizing eye drops. This helps to prevent pain and discomfort during the injection. Your doctor will keep your eye open and ask you to look in the opposite direction, away from the view of the needle. Patients can feel a little bit of pressure inside the eye during the injection, but not much discomfort beyond that. It takes only about 10 to 15 minutes to perform.
Afterward, the recovery process takes only a few days. There may be some eye irritation or even a spot of blood, but these side effects should go away on their own in a few days.
Intravitreal Eye Injections in Kansas and Missouri
The doctors of Retina Associates of Kansas City have extensive experience treating the full spectrum of retinal diseases with neovascularization and are well equipped to make the intravitreal injection process as stress-free as possible. To see if intravitreal eye injections of Avastin, Eylea, or Lucentis are right for you, contact us to schedule an appointment. With locations throughout Kansas and Missouri, we’re easily accessible to patients from Kansas City, Topeka, and other surrounding areas.