Punctal Plugs and Dry Eyes Treatment

Punctal Plugs and Dry Eyes Treatment

Symptoms of dry eyes can go beyond occasional irritation and discomfort. For many, even with basic treatments, the symptoms of dry eyes can lead to decreased vision and impact eye health long-term. If initial treatments are insufficient at controlling the symptoms of dry eyes, more advanced procedures may be needed. Among these procedures is the implantation of punctal plugs. Punctal plugs are small devices that fit inside the punctum of the eyelid where tears naturally drain. When placed, the punctal plug will reduce the rate at which tears drain from the front of the eyes and improve the symptoms of dry eyes.


How Tears Drain

Tears are designed to be secreted onto the surface of the eye on the temporal side and then moved towards the nose with blinks.

The structure of a blink pushes the tears toward the nose and the edge of the eyelid.

At the edge of the eyelid near the nose, on both the upper and lower eyelid, there is a small opening called the punctum.

This small opening leads to a canal that connects to the nasal drainage system.

Tears that are pushed towards the nasal side of the eye can be forced into the punctum and then drain through the nasal passage.


How a Punctal Plug Works

If tears are drained too quickly or are not produced rapidly enough, a punctal plug can aid in relieving the symptoms of dry eye.

Dryness can be due to a lack of or insufficient tear film over the eyes.

By increasing the amount of tears remaining on the eyes, the punctal plugs can improve the tear film.

Often, a punctual plug is placed in both of the lower puncta on each eye. These are the easiest to place and contribute the most benefit to dry eye treatment.


Types of Punctal Plugs

There are two main types of punctal plugs. There are temporary or dissolvable punctal plugs and permanent punctal plugs.

The temporary plugs are designed to naturally absorb over a set amount of time — typically 90 days.

These plugs can provide relief from dry eye for a short period while other treatments are initiated or can be a trial before placing a permanent punctal plug.

A permanent punctal plug is designed to remain in the eye until it is removed by an eye doctor.

These plugs are much larger and can often be seen protruding from the punctum when the lower eyelid is turned outward.


When Punctal Plugs are Used

Not all cases of dry eyes will require punctal plugs for treatment.

In fact, the majority of dry eye cases can be managed with over-the-counter artificial tears or warm compresses.

These measures are less invasive and can be done on an as-needed basis.

However, if there are symptoms that remain after these types of treatments are used, more advanced treatments are indicated.

Punctal plugs can be an effective and simple solution in these cases as they can be done on the same day, in the office, and provides long-lasting relief of symptoms.


Dr. Jorge Malouf and the staff of the Abraham Eye Center specialize in a variety of ophthalmologic conditions and treatments including cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, strabismus surgery, neuro-ophthalmology exams, oculoplastics, diabetes and more. Call our ophthalmologist in Tampa, FL today at 813-798-2020 if you are interested in punctal plugs. Our eye doctor provides only the highest quality eye care and surgical services amongst eye doctors in the Tampa, Florida area.