Punctal Plugs: An Alternative for Dry Eye

Revised and Updated by Seth Preston on: September 30, 2019

Dry eye is one of the more common ophthalmic indications that we hope to treat at Trial Runners. There are many treatments for dry eye, but let’s explore one of the more alternative methods to treat the condition.

The more popular methods for treating dry eye would most certainly be topical applications, aka eye drops. These come in many forms, and often are sold over the counter. For extreme cases, these drops can be prescribed and have an anti inflammatory drug in them to treat the more chronic instances of dry eye.

Another option one would have is devices that help keep dry eye to a minimum.

Let’s talk about punctal plugs.

A punctal plug, also known as tear duct plug or lacrimal plug, is a small medical device that is inserted into the tear duct (puncta) of an eye to block the duct. This prevents the drainage of liquid from the eye. They are used to treat dry eye.

Artificial tears are usually still required after punctal plug insertion

Let’s talk about the different types of punctal plugs

  • Umbrella. These types do not “disappear” into the tear duct, making them easy to spot and remove if necessary.
  • Tapered. This design exerts extra force horizontally to help keep the punctal plug in its proper place.
  • Hollow. A hollowed interior can help the punctal plug adhere to the shape of the eye’s tear duct.
  • Reservoir. This style captures and holds tears, which helps reduce foreign body sensation and increase comfort.
  • Slanted or low profile cap. This design can help maintain comfort, while providing extra stability.