When we suggest punctal “plugs” to a patient, the reaction varies from curiosity to outright panic. While they are quite routine dry eye care, many patients have not heard of them. The goal of the plugs is to keep the tears you have in your eyes longer, decreasing your need for tear supplements and improving your eye comfort.
On the upper and lower eyelids in each eye, there are a total of 4 small openings towards the nose which are called puncta. Each leads to a tiny tube that drains your tears into the back of your nose. The bottom ones carry about 2/3 of the tears and the top the other 1/3. If we block the bottom puncta in each eye, your eyes stay wetter. The plugs are very small, about 1-2 mm, and made of soft plastic. They are easily inserted in the office in a matter of seconds.
Generally we do not suggest plugs at the first signs of dry eyes. We try artificial tears first. If the patient feels that they need to use the tears more than 4 times per day or they are not providing any relief, then plugs or a prescription product called Restasis or Xiidra may be suggested. Those products change the quality of the tears so they coat the eye better. As noted above, the plugs change the quantity of the tears. Sometimes both quality and quantity need improvement. Should that be the case, then plugs and Restasis or Xiidra might be used together.
The symptoms of dry eyes include blurred reading vision at the end of the day, feeling like there is something in the eyes, eye fatigue, red eyes and more. Give us a call if you need relief from this common eye problem.
Dr. Martha Jay is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist specializing in medical and surgical eye care such as blade-free LASIK and small incision cataract surgery. She welcomes patients of all ages into her practice and accepts most insurance plans.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.