The eye works like a camera. It has two parts, a lens and a film. The film layer lines the back wall of the eyes and is called the retina. It has arteries that provide it blood flow and veins which drain the blood. Diabetic changes are characterized by abnormally leaky blood vessels. This may allow fluid to accumulate in the retina and decrease the quality of vision.
Fortunately, this condition is very treatable. The average person experiences a 2 line improvement in their vision within the first three months of therapy.
Ozurdex is a medication which is injected into the eye that causes the blood vessels to become less leaky, and the accumulation of fluid to resolve.
Ozurdex is injected once every 12 weeks. There is typically a rapid improvement over a period of the first three months. Some patients may notice as time nears the 12 week mark that the vision may start to become blurry again. This is because the medication only lasts for a period of 12 weeks, and therefore needs to be re-injected. There are some patients who need only a few injections during their entire treatment and others who go on to need treatment every 12 weeks for years. Your eye care specialist is not able to know how many injections you will need. Your eye care specialist will customize your treatment to the needs of your eye.
Your eye care specialist will choose the right treatment for you. The alternatives to this procedure are an intravitreal injection of a different type of medication, an in-office laser, or no-treatment.
Ozurdex is FDA approved and is widely accepted to be safe and effective. The main risk associated with Ozurdex is a temporary increase in eye pressure which can be easily treated with eye drops. Ozurdex also increases the risk of cataracts slowly becoming worse. Your eye care specialist has considered these risks prior to recommending the treatment.
Uncommonly, some patients who receive an Ozurdex implant may also notice a temporary floater in their vision which improves over time.
There are some patients who do not have an adequate response to Ozurdex. Should this occur, there are other medications available which are typically quite effective.
The alternatives to an intravitreal injection are no treatment or an in-office laser procedure.
The main risk of the procedure is the development of an infection called endophthalmitis. Fortunately, the risk of this infection is very low, occurring in approximately 1 in 3000 injections. Patients can decrease their risk of developing an infection by avoiding rubbing, touching their eyes, or allowing water into their eyes for at least one week.
Please review information on the intravitreal injection procedure for more helpful details. There will be no graphic photos or images.
Most patients undergoing this treatment note a significant improvement in their vision and are surprised that the injection may be administered in a comfortable manner.
What should patients watch out for?
The new onset of worsening blurry vision may be a sign of increased swelling in the macula. We ask patients to contact their eye care specialist if they note worsening vision as this may be a sign that treatment is needed sooner than the next scheduled visits.
The onset of many new floaters or decreased vision may be a sign of new bleeding. This is treatable but does require you to contact your eye care specialist.
Why is it important to follow-up with your eye care specialist?
Untreated swelling in the macula can cause permanent vision loss if present for weeks to months without treatment.
Abnormal new blood vessels can return following treatment. They may bleed and temporarily decrease vision. Your eye care specialist may be able to detect these in the early stage and initiate treatment to decrease the risk of vision loss.
Treatment at the correct duration helps to maximize vision.
I hope you found this information helpful.
Please reach out to your eye care specialists if you have additional questions or concerns.