Punctal plugs are small soft plugs which block the opening of a tear duct known as a punctum. They help to retain the volume of tears on the surface of the eye and reduce symptoms of dryness.
What is Punctal Plugs?
Tears are drained from the eyes via tiny openings in the lower and upper eyelids. These openings are situated nasally and are momentarily in contact when the eyelids close during a blink.
Tears pass through these openings into a system of ducts before eventually reaching the inside of the nose. The drainage of these tears can be disrupted by intentionally blocking the opening of the tear ducts with non-invasive occluders.
Punctal plugs come in two main forms including temporary, semi-permanent and intracanalicular. Temporary punctal plugs are made of collagen and will eventually dissolve over a period of days to weeks (depending on the grade of plug). Semi-permanent plugs are made of a more durable acrylic or silicone and can last for beyond a year. Intracanalicular plugs are inserted deeper into the tear duct and are a more permanent solution.
How is it performed?
- 1.The punctum (tear duct opening) is numbed with a lubricating drop
- 2.The correct size plug will be selected following an examination of the punctum on a microscope
- 3.The punctal plug will be gently inserted into the punctum using medical-grade forceps or a preloaded applicator
- 4.You may feel a gentle pressure when it is applied but no pain
- 5.A collagen based plug will usually be inserted first to assess the impact