As the name suggests, these devices occlude (block) the punctum, or tear duct opening, which is the opening of the drainage duct that carries tears away from the surface of the eye. There are upper and lower punctum ducts in the inner corner of each eye. Blocking these drainage ducts prevents tears from draining away too quickly. Punctal occlusion can be compared to putting a stopper in a bath tub drain, keeping the tears on the eye’s surface for longer periods. This widely performed procedure is safe, quick, painless, and totally reversible.
Punctal plugs are used for people with a variety of conditions relating to dry eye disease including, but not limited to:
- dry eye syndrome
- corneal ulcers
- corneal degeneration
- recurrent corneal erosions
- inflammatory conditions of the eye
Punctal occluders are made of a very soft flexible silicone, similar to that used in contact lenses. Though they are barely visible to the naked eye, they are carefully manufactured into an extremely smooth and precise design.