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Punctal Plugs and Lasik

Plugs to block the canals that drain tears are a common technique to resolve dry eye related to Lasik or Bladeless Lasik.

Illustrated diagram of the punctum canals inset into an image of an eye.  
Punctal plugs can help resolve Lasik induced temporary dry eye by restricting tears from draining into the sinus through the punctum.  

Punctal occlusion with punctal plugs is a method to block the intracanalicular punctum with temporary or permanent plugs. When properly fitted, punctal plugs are not felt by the patient or visible to others.

Common After Lasik

It is relatively common for conventional or wavefront custom Lasik, Bladeless Lasik patients to receive punctal plugs. Punctal plugs help keep the eyes hydrated by blocking the drainage of the tears through the nasolacrimal duct into the sinus system.

Punctal plugs come in many styles and sizes. A comfortable fit should be available for all.

Temporary or Permanent

A Lasik patient may be provided with temporary punctal plugs. After a predetermined number of days, they dissolve. If relief from dry eye symptoms is provided during those few days, then semi-permanent plugs may be inserted.

It is also possible to have these tear drainage ducts permanently occluded with cauterization, but that is useful primarily if the dry eye is chronic and expected to be long-term. The semi-permanent plugs are normally comfortable and successful, and Lasik-induced dry eye normally eventually resolves.

Headache Sinus Pain

Punctal plugs may help keep tears on the eye, but the sudden lack of moisture into the sinus can cause irritation that may present as headaches and pain behind the eye. See our article about Lasik eye strain. These symptoms are often initially attributed to dry eye. Verification if punctal plugs are required may be helpful. See also Lasik dry eye treatment.

Looking For Best Lasik Surgeon?

If you are ready to choose a doctor to be evaluated for conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, or any refractive surgery procedure, we recommend you consider a doctor who has been evaluated and certified by the USAEyes nonprofit organization. Locate a USAEyes Evaluated & Certified Lasik Doctor.

Personalized Answers

If this article did not fully answer your questions, use our free Ask Lasik Expert patient forum.

Recent Punctal Occlusion Medical Journal Articles...

Related Articles

[Treatment progress of large-size puncta and clinical investigation of the extrusion rate and other complications associated with large-size punctal plugs].

Nihon Ganka Gakkai Zasshi. 2014 Jun;118(6):490-4

Authors: Kimura K, Yokoi N, Inagaki K, Komuro A, Sonomura Y, Kato H, Yamada J, Kinoshita S

PURPOSE: One complication of punctal plug occlusion (PPO) is enlargement of the punctum. The purpose of the present study was to investigate large-size (over 1.0 mm) puncta after punctal plug extrusion.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: This study involved the treatment progress of 74 large-size (over 1.0 mm) puncta in 55 eyes of 46 patients who underwent PPO. The extrusion rate and other complications of the total 133 punctal plugs used for those puncta were investigated.
RESULTS: Of the 74 puncta, 33 (44%) achieved occlusion by PPO alone, 20 (27%) achieved perfect occlusion of granulation, and 21 (29%) required surgical punctal occlusion. Although larger or longer punctal plug sizes have been used for PPO, the average elapsed time until extrusion was 143.5 +/- 217.0 (mean +/- SD) days, and the time until 50% of the plugs were extruded was 50 days. No significant extrusion rate was found among the punctal plugs, and there was 0% migration rate. Granulation was observed in 20.3% of the plugs, yet no soft whitish material was seen around the plugs.
CONCLUSION: The findings of this study show that large-size puncta can successfully be occluded for a fixed period of time following PPO.

PMID: 25016790 [PubMed - in process]


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