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How Punctal Plugs Treat Dry Eyes

Many of us live with the daily discomfort of dry eyes. You may experience irritated itchy eyes, blurred vision, and frequently having to use moisture drops. There are common symptoms of dry eyes. There are treatments for this irritating eye issue like prescription medications, but there is an alternative.

Let’s discuss how punctal plugs treat dry eyes.

What Are Punctal Plugs?

If you have never heard this term before, they sound kind of weird, but getting punctal plugs is a quick, painless, non-invasive way to improve those dry eye symptoms.

Sometimes called lacrimal plugs, punctal plugs are very tiny devices as small as a grain of rice. Your doctor inserts them into the tear duct near your nose to prevent drainage.

They are usually made of silicone, collagen, hydrogel, or acrylic polymer, making them biocompatible and comfortable. Complications are rare.

How Do Punctal Plugs Work?

Punctal plugs prevent drainage by “plugging” up the tear duct and keeping tears in your eyes. This increases your tear film and surface moisture to relieve dry-eye symptoms. The good news is you won’t feel them and no one can see them.

Each eyelid has a punctum (drainage opening) near the nose. Your doctor may decide to insert the plugs in the lower lids, upper lids, or both depending on the severity of your dry eyes.

The plugs conserve both your own tears and any artificial tears you may have added.

Types Of Punctal Plugs

There are two kinds of punctal plugs

  • Temporary dissolvable plugs are utilized for short-term use (days to months). Made out of collagen, they can be used as a test to determine effectiveness or for short-term use like after LASIK.
  • Semi-permanent plugs are usually made out of silicone to remain in the eyes for a longer period of time, although they can safely be removed.

Will Punctal Plugs Help Alleviate Your Dry Eye?

It is important to visit a doctor who will conduct tests to diagnose your particular dry-eye issue before inserting punctal plugs. Depending on the cause of your dry eye: evaporative dry eye versus tear deficiency, other treatments may be recommended. Take the Dry Eye Quiz to find out if you require treatment.

The doctor will do measurements so the plug fits properly and comfortably.

Many times punctal plugs are used for patients who wear contact lenses to improve their vision and alleviate the symptoms of dry eye from wearing contacts. Plugs can also complement LASIK surgery for those with dry eye prior to the procedure.

Please note that there are other issues that contribute to dry eye, such as medications like antihistamines and antidepressants, rosacea and post-cataract surgery.

It is possible to relieve those annoying dry-eye symptoms, have less dependence on moisture eye drops and have improved vision.

Contact South Texas Eye Institute and find out if punctal plugs are the answer to your dry-eye symptoms.