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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

The eye drop chart: a pilot study for improving administration of and compliance with topical treatments in glaucoma patients.

Clin Ophthalmol. 2015;9:813-9

Authors: McVeigh KA, Vakros G

AIM: In order to improve patient education, compliance, and administration of eye drops prescribed for patients suffering with glaucoma within a UK ophthalmology department, an eye drop chart (EDC) was designed, developed, and piloted with patients attending the glaucoma clinic over 1 month.
METHODS: A cross-sectional prospective pilot study of 25 patients using an administration aid and a self-reported questionnaire. Chi-square tests were used to compare responses pre- and postintervention.
RESULTS: Results demonstrated an impressive improvement in nine of eleven categories assessed regarding drop administration and compliance. Patients stating that they always wash their hands increased significantly from 64% (13 participants) to 92% (23 participants) (P=0.029), and those who always shake the bottle improved from 40% (10) to 84% (21) (P=0.001). Punctal occlusion techniques improved from 44% (11) to 72% (18) (P=0.015). Finally, patients who always discarded the bottle after 28 days of use rose from 68% to 92%, though the difference was not significant (P=0.09). Only the number of drops being administered to the eye and the length of time left between the application of drops remained relatively unchanged. Sixty-four percent reported finding EDC helpful or useful, 52% had positive responses when asked if they would continue using EDC, and 88% would recommend it to a friend.
CONCLUSION: Although there are limitations to the data as they are subjective, descriptive, and limited to sample size of 25, the results of this pilot study have shown promise. The EDC appears to be a cost-effective way at improving patients' use of topical ocular medications.

PMID: 26005325 [PubMed]


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