My Eye Injection Routine
Pre- and post-injection routine? It has taken me about 3 years, 2 doctors, and one terrific husband to develop a skill set that makes my visit for an eye injection somewhat routine.
My diagnosis was a total surprise. I went in for a routine vision test and when the technician covered my right eye and asked me to read the chart, I couldn’t read a thing. It was as though the letters were covered by a gray circle. That was on a Friday.
I went home with a pamphlet about macular degeneration and 3 days later I was back for my first injection. It wasn’t so bad. The worst part was dealing with the dilation and knowing that this was going to be part of my life, for the rest of my life.
The night before
I write down my list of questions. “Do you see any changes?” is always at the top of the list. I always make sure to note any changes in my vision. Last time, those mysterious things called floaters had started appearing.
The day of the injection
I schedule my visit for early morning. Not 7 a.m. early but not late in the day. The office doesn’t seem as crowded and the wait is shorter.
I take 2 acetaminophen tablets (over the counter) about an hour or so before the appointment to deal with any post-injection pain. As my retina specialist said, “That’s fine. No reason not to.” I drive to the appointment and my husband drives home. The dilation makes driving almost impossible.
The exam room
First comes the reading of the eye chart, measuring pressure (looking for early signs of glaucoma) and drops. Always the drops.
Second, another test. Something called Optical Coherence Tomography, a test that shows the layers and thickness of the retina. That’s it at this stage of my disease. There were others early on but right now just the OCT.
I’ve learned not to be shy about asking for the name of any test and what they are looking for by doing it. More waiting. More drops. Numbing drops.
Support from the staff
Chatting with the techs is essential. I like them to see me as a person not just another patient on an assembly line.
One of the reasons I switched to my current retina specialist was because it was so busy, the waits were so long, and the treatment so impersonal that it made a difficult situation even worse. I felt like just another set of eyeballs.
We know how difficult it can be to live with this disease. We need all the help we can get. We need medical professionals who understand the reality of our lives.
The treatment room
Yes, I switch rooms at least five times. I leave my purse with my husband but take my phone with me. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I try to play a game. That is until things get too blurry.
In comes the doctor. He looks at the OCT image on the computer. So far, he has always said, “You’re stable.”
I ask my questions. Get more numbing drops, a bit of disinfectant, and on to the final room for the injection. My job is to keep my eye steady. Takes less than 10 seconds.
Sterile water rinse and out I go. Schedule the next appointment. Put on my dark glasses and get chauffeured home.
Most times, I take a nap. With dilation I can’t read and bright light is uncomfortable. If I have any pain it is back to the acetaminophen. Sometimes I use an ice pack: on for 20 minutes, off for 20, repeat.
On rare occasions I have had bleeding in the white of my eye; it is called the sclera. My doctor says it looks bad because it is highlighted against the white of the eye but, but usually there is no effect on the vision and it will clear in one to 3 weeks.
If anyone asks about it I explain that I have wet macular degeneration and the bleeding is a result of the injection that is protecting my sight.
By mid-afternoon, my vision has returned to normal. My current schedule is to have an injection every 7 weeks. All together I would estimate that I spend 4 or 5 hours in the treatment process. The results are worth every minute of it.
Have you gotten a second opinion about your macular degeneration?
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