Punctal plug is a type of treatment for those who are having dry eyes. It should be accompanied by other forms of dry eye treatment. Punctal plug is a best tool to manage dry eyes according to ophthalmologists. If the problem of dry eyes is not resolved with the help of artificial tears, then you might consider punctal plugs to do the job. There is a minimal chance of infection as punctal plugs are inserted into the eyes. Let us learn more about punctal plugs.
What are punctal plugs?
Also known as lacrimal plugs or occulders, these tools help to keep the eyes remain moisturized, helping the tear eye film to be stable. They are tiny bio-compatible devices about the size of a rice grain. They are inserted into the tear ducts which help to avert the ducts from tear drainage.
Types of punctal plugs
There are two types of punctal plugs:
- Semi permanent
The Semi-permanent punctal plugs are usually made up of silicon. The dissolvable punctal plugs are usually made of collagen, which gets absorbed by the body along with time. The dissolvable type is offered to those who had undergone LASIK or refractive surgery.
Other types are:
- Umbrella – made out of silicon, best suited for people with severe DES
- Tapered – needs little extra horizontal pressure to keep intact
- Herrick plug – made of hard silicon or dissolvable collagen, good for elderly people with DES, also used post cataract surgery and lasts upto 2.5 years
- Soft silicone – available is different sizes with disposable inserter
- Clear silicone – soft and natural, not transparent as the name suggests
- Low profile or slanted cap – more stable than other types made from silicon
Benefits of punctal plugs
There are various benefits in using punctal plugs. It helps in:
- Keeping the eyes moist
- Retaining tears
- Healthy use
- Elegant and comparatively simple treatment
- Reduces the dry eye symptoms
- Enables you to wear contact lenses in dry eyes
- Speed healing after cataract surgery
Selecting the best lacrimal plugs
They are easy to insert by the ophthalmologists. They also require less maintenance by staff as well as patients. They are the most effecting in treating dry eyes. As every patient has different types of eye problem, various types of punctal plugs are used. Free from side effects, it is also easy and convenient to use.
At times the punctal plugs are criticized by few medical practitioners due to its probable connection with granulomas and dacryocystitis. But, most of them consider the occlusion plugs as an effective and safe treatment option.