Taking Advantage of Punctal Plugs

November 12, 2012

Taking Advantage of Punctal Plugs

Punctal plugs are a safe, effective method for treating chronic dry eye problems. There is no longer any need to suffer from irritated, red, and/or dry eyes.

Dry eyes can become very aggravating throughout the day. They often itch and cause vision problems because the eye is not being adequately hydrated and protected. The most common temporary fix for this problem is over-the-counter eye drops. There are also prescription strength eye drops. Unfortunately, they have to be applied often and can sometimes cause further eye irritation. Doctors have started to recommend punctal plugs which help keep the eyes moist. Common reasons a person may have dry eyes are:

  • A decrease in tear production

  • Variety of medications

  • Allergies

  • Environmental factors such as wind or dry air

  • Tear quality is poor

  • Eyelid problems

The Procedure

The idea of the procedure is to block the tear drainage area known as the puncta. These small holes are on the corner of the eyelids near the nose. There is one on the top and bottom lid. Every time you blink, your eyelids push tears and debris towards these openings. In order to prevent excess drainage, doctors occlude the puncta. Permanent punctal plugs are made from silicone or collagen. They can easily be removed if problems ever start to occur. These are put in place after a trial run with temporary plugs in order to see how they assist in fixing your dry eye symptoms. Seven-day plugs are most commonly used, but there are some available that last up to three months. Temporary implants are made from a dissolvable material that is safe for the eye and body. All punctual plugs are designed to be comfortable for the eye and to stay in place throughout your normal routine.

How it Works

The puncta serve as drainage lines for the eyes. As tears are forced down the canal from the movement of the eyelids, the eyes are left dried out. Ever notice how your nose runs whenever you cry? This is a result of the excess liquid draining from the eyes. When punctal plugs are put in place, the drainage area becomes blocked off. In essence, the eye is allowed to fill with more tears. With tears still being produced and less of them being drained, many individuals quickly notice dry eye relief. Your vision should begin to clear up and the actual eye should be much less irritated.

Is it Right for You?

As previously mentioned, there are many dry eye causing culprits. Eye doctors may suggest the use of the punctal plugs if eye drops are not efficient. If you find yourself using an abnormal amount of artificial tears throughout the day and yet are still not able to achieve the desired relief, it may be time to consider using the implants. They are biocompatible with the body and physically force more tears to remain within the eye at any given point in time. There is no longer any reason to let chronic dry eye rule your life. If dry eye goes untreated for too long, dry patches can form on the different parts of the eye like the conjunctiva or cornea. Small volumes of tears cannot coat these patches which makes it even more difficult for drops to treat the problem. Plugs can help fade dry patches while preventing further dry eye complications.

Category: Articles