Triamcinolone is a type of steroid drug, and intravitreal triamcinolone refers to an injection of triamcinolone into the eyeball. Intravitreal triamcinolone is typically used to treat a condition known as macular edema, in which fluid collects in the middle of the retina, the part of the eye that senses light. Macular edema can be associated with diseases such as diabetes, eye inflammation, or a blockage of the vein that drains blood from the retina. Intravitreal triamcinolone has also been used to shut down blood vessels which are leaking inside the eye.
The intravitreal triamcinolone procedure is carried out using numbing eye drops, and patients are usually able to return home later the same day. A needle is inserted into the eyeball and an appropriate dosage of triamcinolone is injected through the white of the eye into a gel-like substance called the vitreous humor. It is normal to see the drug floating in the field of view for around three weeks afterward. Sometimes, the term intravitreal triamcinolone may be used to describe the same type of eye treatment procedure in cases where a different drug is used.
A drug called bevacizumab is increasingly being used in place of triamcinolone because it is associated with fewer side effects. Implants of intravitreal steroid drugs are also being used more often than injections. Intravitreal triamcinolone is most likely to be used in those cases of macular edema where laser therapy or bevacizumab treatment has already been tried but has failed to work.
One of the important uses of triamcinolone has been to treat macular edema resulting from uveitis, or inflammation of the uvea which lines the inside of the eye. Previously, the condition was treated using steroid tablets, but these tablets can cause numerous side effects throughout the body, including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Intravitreal triamcinolone has the advantage that a small amount of steroid drug is delivered directly to the area where it is needed inside the eye. This avoids unwanted effects occurring in the rest of the body.
Although the overall safety of triamcinolone is not in question, as it does not usually cause serious side effects, the main problem with its use is that the effects are not long-lasting. The results of treatment generally last for less than six months. There is also a slight risk of glaucoma, or abnormally high pressure inside the eye, occurring after intravitreal triamcinolone, but this is normally treatable with eye drops.