Punctal Plugs for Dry Eyes: How They Work
Dry eye can be a source of great discomfort. The eye irritation can negatively impact your vision as well as your quality of life. In some cases, using artificial tears is not enough to address cases of dry eye. That’s why our Chicago, IL practice offers advanced dry eye treatment options that can increase and maintain eye moisture for long periods of time.
Punctal plugs are one dry eye treatment option that’s effective for many patients. The team at Wicker Park Eye Center would like to consider how punctal plugs work and whether or not they are an ideal option for you.
How Punctal Plugs Work
Punctal plugs are small, biocompatible devices that are inserted into the tear ducts in order to prevent tear drainage. By preventing tear drainage, people with dry eye can maintain moisture for a longer period of time. Punctal plugs are also known as punctum plugs, lacrimal plugs, and occluders.
Types of Punctal Plugs
There are two kinds of punctal plugs:
- Dissolvable - These types of punctal plugs are made of collagen and other types of biological materials that the body can absorb after a while.
- Semi-Permanent - These kinds of punctal plugs are made of more durable materials such as silicone.
In general, dissolvable punctal plugs are used first to determine if the use of plugs will one effective.
Ideal Candidates for Punctal Plugs
Good candidates for punctal plugs tend to be people who have not experienced relief from dry eye using eye drops alone. As noted above, candidacy for semi-permanent plugs will be determined by using dissolvable punctal plugs first.
Do Punctal Plugs Hurt?
During the procedure, local anesthetic is not necessary, though sometimes it may be used depending on the eye doctor’s discretion. Patients will experience some initial discomfort when the punctual plugs are placed. They will gradually become accustomed to the sensation and not notice that they are there.
How Effective Are Punctal Plugs?
Punctal plugs can be quite effective, allowing your eyes to be lubricated by your natural tears as well as artificial tears. New plugs can be placed if needed to prolong the benefits of treatment.
Adverse Punctal Plug Side Effects
While punctal plugs can be effective for many patients, some patients will experience negative side effects. This may include:
- Excessive tearing and watery eyes
- Displacement of the plug from rubbing the eyes
- Migration of the plug deeper into the tear duct
- Eye infections
- Eye pain
When Should Punctal Plugs Be Removed?
Punctal plugs should be removed if treatment proves ineffective and/or results in discomfort and other adverse side effects. Should this occur, other treatment options can be considered as needed.
Contact Wicker Park Eye Center
If you would like to learn more about treating dry eye and what options are available, be sure to contact our team of vision doctors and eye care specialists. Our office can also be reached by phone by calling (773) 831-5153. The team at Wicker Park Eye Center looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you experience optimal vision.