Can Punctal Plugs Help Dry Eyes?

by Sep 12, 2022

It is not uncommon to have dry eyes that are not sufficiently treated with artificial tears or other topical treatments. If the symptoms of dry eye are still present, then punctal plugs may be needed to help reduce the irritation and dryness of the eyes.


Dry Eye Syndrome

Having dry or irritating eyes can often be the result of a condition known as dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome occurs when the tear film is not sufficient to provide nutrients and protect the front of the eye.

Many underlying conditions can contribute to having dry eyes. Conditions including Sjogren’s Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid eye disease may lead to an increase in the risk of dry eye syndrome.

Additionally, eye problems like allergies, eyelid infections, and oil gland deficiency can contribute to dry eye syndrome.


Symptoms of Dry Eyes

While dry eyes may affect everyone slightly differently, common symptoms include irritation, feeling like there is something in the eye, blurry vision that improves with blinking, and eye pain that is short lived and worse in the morning.

These symptoms are a result of the lack of tears on the front of the eyes. When the tear film is not full and healthy, the eye is susceptible to damage and can become very irritated.


Tear Film and Eye Health

The tear film is a small layer of tears which are normally present on the front of the eye.

The tear film is responsible for providing oxygen to the eye and also for keeping the eye from becoming damaged by the environment or the eyelids.

A healthy tear film is important for good overall eye health. Anything which disrupts the tear film can result in dry eyes and eye pain.

The tears are normally drained through a small hole in the upper and lower eyelids which is called the punctum.

From the punctum, the tears flow into the nasolacrimal duct and are drained into the nasal cavity.

Use of Punctal Plugs

Punctal plugs are a device which is used to help treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye syndrome by blocking the drainage of tears from the eyes.

A punctal plug is inserted into either the upper or lower punctum and then reduces the rate at which tears are drained from the front of the eye.

By reducing the rate tears are drained, the punctal plugs are able to increase the tear film and prevent dry eye symptoms.


When are Punctal Plugs Needed?

There are many options for treating dry eye syndrome. Punctal plugs are a more permanent and long-lasting treatment option but also require a more invasive procedure to have the plugs inserted.

If the eyes are dry even after initial treatment with eye drops and possibly warm compresses, it may be beneficial to consider adding punctal plugs as a treatment option.

In most cases, the punctal plugs are able to reduce the symptoms of dryness and can be paired with a long-term use of artificial tears for the treatment of moderate to severe dry eyes.


Our eye doctors at Neal Eye Group in Conshohocken, PA excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrists at (610) 828-9701 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about or want to try punctal plugs for your dry eyes.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Conshohocken, Norristown, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, and Philadelphia.

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