Advanced Eye Care Technology: Punctal Plugs

by Jul 22, 2016

Dry eye disease is a fairly common issue with a few different causes. Your optometrist may try to treat this condition with eye drops, however, this does not always work for all patients. Punctal plugs are another treatment option.

What Are They?

This tiny device is used to plug the tear ducts. Like with a lot of other eye care technology, there are a few different varieties. You can get either dissolvable or semi-permanent plugs. The dissolvable plugs, which are made from collagen or a similar material, usually last anywhere from a few days to a few months and are absorbed by the body. This treatment option may be used before a surgery or to determine how the treatment works for you.

Semi-permanent plugs are meant to last a lot longer. To help amp up their durability, this product is usually made from silicone or a similar material. Depending on your treatment plan, this plug may be removed eventually.

How Do They Treat Dry Eyes?

Certain tear ducts actually help drain your eyes of fluid. When these ducts are blocked, the surface moisture of the eye is increased. This extra moisture may help relieve dry eye. If this treatment is used, your eye doctor will have to monitor your tear production. Some patients find their eyes become too wet when punctal plugs are put in.

Are There Other Types?

You already know that there are semi-permanent and dissolvable plugs, but there are a variety of designs as well.

  • Hollow: This plug is able to better shape itself to the form of the tear duct.
  • Low Profile Cap: Sometimes referred to as a slanted cap, this plug is used to add both comfort and stability.
  • Reservoir: This plug is able to increase comfort because it stores tears like your ducts would do.
  • Tapered: The tapered design gives more horizontal force, which helps keep the plug in its place.
  • Umbrella: Part of the plug remains visible, which makes removal easier.

Your optometrist in the Norristown, PA, area may have to consider your specific situation and eye health when determining the type of plug to use.

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