Another discussion topic regarding dry eyes deals with other options besides instilling multiple lubricating eye drops every day. Previously we talked about Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and how the oil layer of the tears does not function properly to create dry eyes and how the MiboFlow can be a treatment option. This article will discuss another option to help treat dry eyes by keeping your natural tears on your eyes longer by slowing the drainage of your tears by punctal plugs.
First lets go over how you produce tears and how they drain. A simple approach to use is your kitchen sink. When you turn your faucet on the water goes through the faucet into the sink where it flows to a drain in the sink where the plumbing will carry it away. The turning on of the faucet is when your eye recognizes the front surface is dry and will create tears from the lacrimal gland which is located around your upper eyelid closer towards your ear than your nose. The tears are produced and carried to the front surface of your eye. When you blink it pushes the tears across the eye. The tears now need to drain so the blink pushes the tears towards the puncta which are holes located at the top and bottom part of your eyelids near the corner by your nose. Those holes act like the drain in the sink where the tears will flow. The tears go through a system called the lacrimonasal system which acts like the plumbing from the sink and your tears drain from there. Since the system works with your nasal system you may sometimes taste the saltiness of your tears or you may taste certain eye drops you put in your eyes due to that drainage system.
The punctal plugs work on the drainage part of the tear cycle and by clogging the drain it allows the tears you produce to stay on the front surface of your eyes longer. Some forms of dry eye occur due to the the fact that the tears drain too quickly and they can not keep the eye moisturized long enough to keep them comfortable. The punctal plugs come in a couple different forms. They can be made of collagen and shaped like a cylinder. These plugs are temporary plugs as the collagen will break down over time. It depends on the type of plug used as some may last for a week while other could last for 3-6 months. The second type is made of silicone and is shaped more like a mushroom cap. It does not dissolve over time and is used for long term treatment. Each doctor has their own preference for punctal plugs as there are many brands available.
The best option is to have your eyes examined so our doctors can look at the type of dry eyes you have and if they feel punctal plugs would be an option for you. Call (860) 233-2020 to schedule an appointment.