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Are Punctal Plugs Visible?

Punctal plugs are tiny devices which fit into the tear duct (puncta) of the eye. Puncta are the tiny openings that drain tears from your eyes. About the size of a grain of rice, the plug is designed to block the duct and prevent fluid from draining from the eye. This helps keep the eye’s surface moist and comfortable, relieving itchy, burning and red eyes. Punctal plugs are used to treat dry eye when other treatments have failed to work.

Punctal plugs may also be called punctum plugs, lacrimal plugs or occluders. They are usually inserted into the puncta of the upper or lower eyelids, or in both. Punctal plugs are so small and fit in the punctal space in such a way that they are virtually invisible. 

There Are Two Types of Punctal Plugs, Temporary and Semi-PermanentA close up of a person's eye

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Temporary/Dissolving Plugs:

These are made of materials (such as collagen) that gradually break down and are absorbed by the body. These plugs can last in the eye from a few days to months. Dissolving plugs are often used to initially try out punctal plugs to see if they help relieve your dry eye. They are also often used to keep the eye moist after having eye surgery, such as LASIK.

Semi-Permanent Plugs:

These plugs are made of a longer-lasting medical material (such as silicone or acrylic) and are designed to stay in the eye for years. They can be removed by your ophthalmologist if needed. There is another type of semi-permanent punctal plug that is placed in a deeper part of the tear duct called the canaliculus. These deeper plugs cannot be seen at all in the eye.

How Punctal Plugs are Inserted

The first step for punctal plugs is to have your eye doctor examine your eye to determine the best type and size of plug for your individual needs. Once the right plug is chosen the doctor may numb your tear ducts. The punctal plug procedure is not painful but you may feel some pressure as the device is placed in your eye. After the plugs are inserted, patients are usually able to return to their normal activities right away.

If you’d like more information about punctal plugs in Colorado Springs, contact Skyline Vision Clinic at 719-630-3937 or website to schedule an appointment with Dr. Buckley.