Fighting the fear of eye injectionsPosted: Tuesday 25 January 2022 at 13:02
Margot Kennedy who says her eye injections have become ‘routine’ is keen to tackle the fear factor which comes with having a needle in the eye.
And the 80-year-old knows a thing or two about the injections for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as she has just had her 100th dose, ten years after being diagnosed.
“I’ve had 100 injections and only one of them was painful,” she said. “Really there is just nothing to worry about at all. The biggest nuisance for me is the time it takes for me to get to, and park at, the hospital!
“At first you dread the whole thing but the staff explain what’s happening and you soon become familiar with it. You learn that it doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t last that long anyway. The fluid itself is a very small quantity (and) that increases the pressure in the eye but it’s like pushing your index finger against your thumb; you feel it but it doesn’t hurt and it’s over within 10 to 20 seconds."
She added: “For me, it has become completely routine and having eye injections every few weeks doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, everyone knows me when I go in to the clinic and that makes a difference.
“It’s big marker. I’ve not met anyone with 100 eye injections, I’ve met several people who have had 70 or 80 jabs, but not quite that many, so it is a big marker.”
Margot’s tip for anyone new to eye injections is to find a way of taking ownership of their fears, which for her has been mentally preparing herself to accept and be interested in what is happening.
“I always ask the staff to tell me just before they put the needle in, I like to know,” she said. “If people don’t want to know when it’s happening they are supporting their fear, it is making their mind working along the lines of ‘this is going to be bad so I don’t want to know.’ I’m saying to the staff to let me know when they’re popping it in and I’m now able to set myself, I know it’s coming. Of course you feel a prick, but it’s no different to a vaccine injection.”
Margot’s injections started back in 2012 and she remembers how she had to come to terms with her diagnosis and the thought of eye injections for the rest of her life.
Eye injections as a form of treatment was not something she had been aware of before, and when asked what would happen if she chose not to have them, her doctor at the time said she “would go blind.”
Margot said: “You imagine a black wall across your face the whole time, no twinkles of light anywhere and that the news went through me like a knife.
“I’d never heard of these injections before, I didn’t know the treatment existed but to be told I needed them was, at the time, dreadful.
“I think for 24 hours I was very quiet and the following evening I burst into tears. I sobbed and sobbed, terrified not so much about the prospect of the injections, but it was my imagination of life afterwards, if I was to go blind because I didn’t know how many injections I’d have or if they would work.
“Actually though, the first time I went for the injection I wasn’t terrified. I was stoked physiologically because of my husband being there and I was lucky to have him. He put me into a frame of mind where I was able to know it wasn’t as bad as I had feared but I’m not sure if I had walked in on my own if I had gone through with it.”
But as Margot has explained, it was her only chance to save her sight.
She is a regular patient at her eye clinic at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, which she describes as “exemplary”. She is planning to donate £100 towards a new staff garden at the hospital, as a thank-you to the staff who have treated her in the past decade.
How did you overcome the fear of injections? Share your experiences with us at email@example.com
Read more information about injections for macular disease here. Alternatively, if you’re worried about injections and would like to speak to someone, call our Advice and Information Service on 0300 3030 111.