Punctal plugs are used for the treatment of dry eye syndrome when medical therapy is not sufficient. A punctual plug is a microscopic, cork-like, silicone peg that is inserted into the tear exit site on the eyelid margin to prevent the draining of tears from the ocular surface.
In certain types of dry eye syndrome, tear production is sufficient. The problem is that the eye is not protected by the moisture of tears because they evaporate or drain off the surface of the eye. One counterintuitive symptom of dry eye syndrome is excessive tearing of the eyes.
By inserting an artificial plug, the ophthalmologist can prevent the eye from drying out as a result of tears running out of the eye. The treatment also stops the unpleasant side effect of eyes that are constantly tearing and yet dry and scratchy.
The plug can be temporary, permanent, or dissolvable based on the needs of the patient. Temporary plugs are usually made of collagen, and some are designed to dissolve rather than be removed. Permanent punctal plugs are small pieces of silicone shaped for easy insertion. Temporary plugs are used to be sure that the plugs will have the desired affect before permanent plugs are installed.
Punctal plugs can be inserted in several minutes in an in-office setting with no pre- or post-procedural restraints.
Do Punctal Plugs Cure Dry Eye?
Punctal plugs can be used as a diagnostic tool for dry eye as well as a means of relieving symptoms. Temporary plugs can help a patient gauge whether draining tears is the problem. It can be difficult to determine the exact cause of discomfort from dry eye. When temporary plugs dissolve, patients are more likely to notice a return to the previous condition if the plugs were really affective.
While punctal plugs are comfortable and non-irritating, eye drops may still be needed to relive dry eye symptoms. Most patients do not feel the plugs after they are installed. For some patients, there is a feeling of a foreign object being in their eye. Differently shaped plugs are available which can be more comfortable for some people.
It is a good idea to avoid rubbing your eyes when you have punctal plugs so they do not move around or fall out. When a plug falls out, it can be easily replaced by your ophthalmologist. If a plug moves out of place, it can be removed and reinstalled or irrigated through the lacrimal system.
ECSV can determine the severity of your condition and let you know if you need plugs for your dry eyes. Contact ECSV today to schedule an appointment.