Punctal Occlusion

If you have dry eye syndrome, you’re not alone. Dry eye syndrome — a disorder of the eye’s tear film that causes it to decrease tear and moisture production — is one of the most common complaints that eye care professionals receive. Up to 20 percent of adults are diagnosed with dry eye syndrome during their lives.

Your tears are made up of a combination of water, fatty oils, and mucus. This complex combination of elements keeps the surface of your eye smooth and moist. When your eye isn’t producing enough moisture, the surface becomes dried out and uncomfortable. It also can lead to infection, because your eye is not as able to repel bacteria when it is drier than it should be.

All symptoms, potential procedural/surgical options should always be discussed with your physician after a thorough consultation and examination for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Punctal plugs, or lacrimal plugs, are tiny biocompatible devices placed in your tear ducts (punctum) to block drainage during a procedure called punctal occlusion. This blockage helps keep your eyes moist by saving your tears and any artificial tears that you may be using. These plugs are removable when your condition improves.

There are two kinds of punctual plugs:

  • Made of collagen, this one dissolves in less than a week.
  • The other is made of silicone and remains in place until removed by your ophthalmologist.

Your doctor may attempt a punctal occlusion with a solution that has the least permanence first, to see if it benefits you. If it does, the more permanent version is installed.

Your doctor has the option of using five different shapes of punctual plugs:

  • Umbrella: These plugs are visible in the tear duct and easy to remove.
  • Reservoir: These capture tears and hold them, increasing comfort and decreasing the irritation.
  • Hollow: This shape helps the plugs stay in place, conforming to the shape of your tear duct.
  • Tapered: This shape keeps the plug in place by exerting pressure horizontally.
  • Slanted or low profile cap: These plugs provide extra stability and comfort.
What Are Punctal Plugs?