What Do Punctal Plugs Do?

What Do Punctal Plugs Do?

July 30th, 2020
woman suffering from dry eye

Dry eye comes in several different forms. The causes of dry eye can be a variety of factors. This can include your lifestyle, habits, environment, and genetics.

But the causes of dry eye fit into two basic categories: tear production and quality of your tears. You will experience dry eye symptoms if you are lacking in either category.

Some people may even experience both. Keep reading to learn more about dry eye and one treatment option called punctal plugs!

What happens if you have problems with tear production?

Problems with tear production are pretty self-explanatory. If you are not producing enough tears, it leads to your eyes not receiving enough hydration.

This leads to them becoming itchy, irritated, or fatigued. These are some very common symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

Punctal plugs are actually designed to help with this problem. Rather than stimulate more tears, they attack dry eye from the other side of the equation, making your tears more effective.

What are punctal plugs?

Punctal plugs are small, usually the size of a grain of rice. They are inserted into the tear ducts.

This helps keep tears on the surface of your eyes for longer. When tears can stay in your eyes, they can deliver essential nutrients.

Punctal plugs come in two forms: temporary and semi-permanent. Temporary punctal plugs are made from easily dissolved material such as collagen.

Temporary punctal plugs test the effectiveness of blocking your tear ducts or help with post-surgery dry eye. Depending on how they are made, they can last a few months or dissolve in as little as a few days.

Semi-permanent plugs are a longer lasting solution to dry eye. Instead of being made of collagen, semi-permanent punctal plugs are made up of medical grade plastics like silicone or acrylic. They can last for years before they need replacing.

The only way you can have punctal plugs inserted is by a doctor. The procedure is fast and painless. They are easy to remove, which may become necessary if they make your eyes too watery.

Other dry eye treatments

Treating dry eye often involves a combination of treatments and efforts, besides punctal plugs. The treatments that work vary widely depending on the patient.

Punctal plugs are an effective treatment option, but they may not work for everyone. They may not be the best option for someone whose dry eye symptoms occur because of poor quality tears.

Gland expression therapy is often used to treat this problem. The root of the issue may be due to blocked meibomian glands, which produce oil.

Oil is a necessary part of a healthy tear. Oil is what coats the tear, preventing it from evaporating prematurely.

Other solutions include tear stimulating drugs, artificial tear inserts that dissolve over time, and self-care. Self-care can include changing the way you eat, staying hydrated, and altering your environment to reduce the presence of irritating particles.

Tired of living with your itchy, dry eyes? Do something about it! Schedule an appointment at the Laser Eye Center in Huntsville, AL!

Our ophthalmologists can help you figure out why your eyes are dry and come up with an effective treatment plan!