Punctal Occlusion

Your eye doctor may recommend the punctal occlusion procedure to treat dry eye syndrome.

Most of our tears are produced by lacrimal glands, which are located above and behind our upper eyelids. Tears from these glands are secreted onto our eyes and become part of the tear film. The tear film then drains away from our eyes through a drainage channel (called the nasolacrimal duct) that empties into our nose. (That's why your nose runs when you cry!)

The entrance to the nasolacrimal drainage channel is called the lacrimal punctum, a small opening in each of our eyelids. If you pull down your lower lid, you can see the lacrimal punctum in this lid, which is located near your nose.

In punctal occlusion, your eye doctor inserts a small plug in one or more puncta to slow the drainage of tears from your eyes. By slowing the rate of tear drainage, more tears stay on your eyes, relieving dry eye symptoms. The procedure is simple and can be performed in-office in just a few minutes.

Punctal plugs can be made of a dissolvable material called collagen for temporary occlusion (a few days), or they can be made of silicone for permanent occlusion. If your eyes get too watery from punctal occlusion with permanent plugs, your eye doctor can easily remove them. Permanent punctal plugs are available several sizes, so if one should fall out, a larger one can be inserted. More about punctal plugs »