What are punctal plugs?
After lubricating eye drops and and other first-line therapies have proved to be
ineffective in treating a patient’s dry eye symptoms, punctal plug therapy is considered.
The tears that cover the eye drain through the puncta located in the corners of our eye
closest to our nose. Punctal occlusion means blocking some or all of the puncta (small
openings in the corners of the eyes near the nose, through which tears drain). This is
done in order to improve the lubrication of the eye surface by slowing down tear drainage.
This allows for more lubrication to remain on the front surface of the eye and therefore
allows for symptomatic relief of burning and dryness discomfort.
What happens once the plugs are in?
There are traditionally no symptoms associated with the insertion of punctal plugs. However, infrequently there may be some mild soreness from the insertion process that resolves quickly. Other infrequent symptoms include the feeling of something in the eye. Once the plugs are in the eye they quickly act to serve the function by allowing for more tears on the front surface.
A minority may find that their tears pool up and run over after the plugs are in. This is called epiphora. Some people experience significant enough benefits from the plugs that they tolerate the overflow.
The punctal plugs may be removed if desired after the treatment therapy is administered.
Are punctal plugs permanent?
Punctal plugs are not permanent.
There are 2 main materials used as punctal plugs:
1. Collagen punctal plugs
2. Silicone punctal plugs
Collagen punctal plugs dissolve over a period of time. Depending on the type of punctal plug, it
could dissolve over a period of weeks to months. On the other hand, silicone punctal plugs do not
dissolve over a period of time. They will remain in the punctum until they are removed by an eye
Do you think you would benefit from punctal plug therapy?
If you believe the therapeutic effects of punctal plugs would benefit you and provide relief from symptoms of dry eye, feel free to contact our office, NJ Vision and Dry Eye Center, and optometrists Dr. Christian Crespo & Dr. Douglas Lambertson can help provide relief of your eye discomfort.