The thought of receiving an injection in the eye may cause anxiety to many people. Doctors use eye injections to treat certain eye health conditions, such as retinal vein occlusion or diabetic retinopathy.

Eye injections, also called intravitreal injections, are an essential part of eye care. Many people may find receiving an eye injection scary, which may cause anxiety or stress. However, eye injections are typically safe and are generally an effective treatment option for several eye conditions.

People have various methods to manage the anxiety that receiving an eye injection may cause, including medications, therapy, and relaxation techniques. Bringing a loved one as emotional support may also be effective in overcoming anxiety.

This article will explain eye injections and how they may cause anxiety, what a person can expect during and after receiving an eye injection, and the methods that may help people manage their anxiety about the procedure.

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Eye injections are shots of medications given directly into the eyeball to treat several health conditions, such as:

Eye injections are typically safe. However, the thought of having a needle going through the eye may cause fear and anxiety in people undergoing this procedure.

Eye injections can be necessary for the treatment of certain eye health conditions, in particular AMD, which is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults.

A 2020 study stated that people who felt more anxious about eye injections had prior experiences with injections and other incidents that may have made their anxiety worse. The same study also found that anxiety related to eye injections was more common in younger people.

If a person experiences anxiety before an eye injection, they can speak with a doctor. A doctor can recommend several methods that may help people manage their anxiety and prescribe medications to help people relax.

Learn more about different treatments for anxiety.

Some people may feel more relaxed and in control, knowing what will happen during an eye injection.

Here is what people can expect during an eye injection:

  1. The doctor will numb the eyeball with an anesthetic using eye drops or eye gel. Sometimes, the numbing medication is through a small injection.
  2. The ophthalmologist will place an antiseptic on the eye and eyelids to prevent bacterial infections.
  3. The specialist will hold the eyelids open during the injection. They will use a device called a speculum.
  4. The doctor performing the injection will ask the person receiving the injection to look in a certain direction. This allows the specialist to inject the medication into the part of the eye that requires treatment.
  5. The needle the ophthalmologist will use is very thin. During the injection, people only feel pressure without experiencing any pain or sharp sensation.
  6. After the injection, the specialist cleans the eye and removes the antiseptic medication. They will also check the eye, making sure there are no complications.

This procedure typically lasts between 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish. Some more sensitive patients may receive a subconjunctival injection, which is when the doctor injects an anesthetic in addition to numbing eye drops.

After an eye injection, people may notice a spot of blood in the eye where they received the injection. This is a subconjunctival hemorrhage, and when it occurs, it typically clears up within a week. People may also experience eye irritation for a few hours after the injection.

Complications after an eye injection are rare. However, they can happen, and people should contact an ophthalmologist if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • an increase in light sensitivity
  • pain or discomfort in the eye
  • blurry vision or other vision problems
  • an increased number of floaters in their vision

Receiving an eye injection may cause anxiety. There are several methods that can help people manage anxiety and feel more at ease before undergoing this medical procedure. These may include:


Doctors may prescribe medications to help people manage their anxiety before an eye injection.

A 2021 case study found that a combination of anxiety medications and therapy helped reduce one man’s anxiety and phobia of receiving injections.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help change people’s way of thinking and their behavioral patterns. This can include helping them face their fears and what makes them anxious. CBT is a type of psychological treatment, and it may make it easier to undergo certain medical procedures, such as eye injections.

Bringing support

Bringing a friend, a family member, or a loved one can help people manage their anxiety before receiving an eye injection by providing emotional support. They can also provide relief from the anxiety a person may experience after receiving the injection by spending time with them and driving the person home.

Relaxation tips

There are several methods that people can use to relax, including:

Learn how to relax.

The idea of receiving an eye injection can make people worried and anxious. Eye injections are a common treatment option for several health conditions that may affect the eyes. These injections are typically an effective treatment, and they are generally safe.

Taking anxiety medications, undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy, doing relaxation techniques, and receiving emotional support from a loved one can help reduce anxiety before and during the appointment with the ophthalmologist.