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If the thought of an injection in your eye gives you pause, you’re not alone. The idea of a needle coming close to the eye makes many people squeamish.

However, eye injections can be a necessary part of eye care. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. As it progresses, it can develop into wet AMD, which a doctor may treat with a series of painless injections.

Other eye conditions can also require an injection in the eye, such as:

  • retinal vein occlusion
  • swelling of the retina (macular edema)
  • diabetic retinopathy

The thought of an injection in the eye may sound scary, but it’s a generally safe and effective treatment method.

It’s not unexpected to feel some stress about eye injections. In addition to the procedure itself, your concerns about your diagnosis and what to expect can amplify those feelings.

According to a 2020 study with 102 people, participants who were younger and female experienced more anxiety than others.

Researchers noted that the individual characteristics of people were more of a factor than prior experience with injections or other factors.

If you find yourself feeling anxious about an upcoming eye injection, you may find one of the following tips helpful.

Bring a friend to the appointment

A friend or family member may help put you at ease. They can provide emotional support prior to and following the injection. They can also drive you home following the appointment.

Try cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychological treatment. Therapists use it to help change your thinking and behavioral patterns, including helping you face your fears.

A 2021 case study showed that CBT can effectively help a person living with an extreme phobia of eye injections return for treatments.

Consider anxiety medication

If your anxiety is difficult to manage, you may want to talk with your doctor about taking anxiety medication leading up to your injection.

In a 2021 case study, researchers found that a combination of medication and CBT worked well in reducing patients’ extreme phobia of injections. They recommended that doctors refer patients with early signs of anxiety to a psychiatrist.

Take care of yourself

Though not specific to addressing anxiety related to an eye injection, many of the tips associated with generalized anxiety may help you reduce your own fears leading up to your appointment. Some ways you can take care of yourself to help with anxiety include:

  • getting regular exercise
  • eating a balanced diet
  • avoiding or limiting alcohol and smoking
  • getting consistent sleep for at least 8 hours a night

Practice relaxation techniques

You may find that taking time to focus on your breathing and relaxation can help relieve your nerves. Some common relaxation techniques include:

  • practicing meditation
  • trying yoga or other forms of mindful movement
  • listening to calming music

Challenge your fear

You can try to challenge your fear of the eye injection. Is it really going to be as bad as you think? If you had one before, did anything bad happen?

By challenging your fears and replacing them with positive thoughts, you may be able to reduce your anxiety about an eye injection.

Other tips

Everyone is different, which means what works for you may not work for others.

You may find these other anxiety and stress-reducing tips helpful before and during your appointment:

  • Try slowly counting to 10.
  • Watch movies or television shows that make you laugh and might take your mind off the injection.
  • Ask your doctor about playing calming music during the procedure.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Volunteer, start a new hobby, or find other ways to get your mind off the upcoming appointment.
  • Learn more about the procedure before your appointment so that you know what to expect.

For some, knowing what will happen during an eye injection may help them feel a bit more at ease.

Here’s what you can expect during an eye injection:

  1. The doctor or tech will first clean and sterilize the area, much like they would before an injection in the arm.
  2. They will then use a very effective numbing agent on the eye.
  3. In some cases, they may use a small device to keep the eyelid out of the way during the injection.
  4. The doctor will use a small needle to inject the white part of the eye.

The injection only takes a few seconds, and you likely won’t even see the needle.

The thought of eye injections makes many people nervous or uncomfortable. If you find that your anxiety is difficult to manage, you can follow the tips above.

It’s also good to remember that millions of people have undergone this quick and painless treatment and have benefitted from the injected medication.

Managing anxiety can include at-home remedies, such as exercise, diet, sleep, and meditation. Formal treatments may include CBT or medications. You might find that a combination of both helps reduce anxiety associated with your upcoming eye injection.