Punctal Plugs

Punctal plugs are used in the treatment of dry eye syndrome. Typical symptoms of this condition include burning and (paradoxically) watering and a sensation like something is in the eye.

In many cases, dry eyes are caused by the body’s failure to produce enough tears.

Blocking the tear drainage system with punctal intracanalicular (tear duct) plugs may improve symptoms by keeping more tears in the eye.

Severe cases of dry eye may lead to infection and in rare cases, blindness or loss of the eye.

Tears that do not evaporate leave the eye via a tube that connects the eyelids to the nose. If you evert your eyelid, you will see a black dot on the inner surface near the nose. This is the opening into the tube connecting the eyelid to the nose and where tears leaving the eye go.

Plugging this opening may stop the tears from leaving your eye, thereby keeping the eye more lubricated and alleviating eye discomfort.

What are they?

Small plugs placed in the corners of the eyes to reduce tear drainage.

Risks Involved

There can be a risk of infection as the plug is a foreign material and may be associated with infection around the plug.

In some cases, plugs may cause an overflow of tears. Dr Hornsby may decide to remove the plugs in this situation.

The exposed end of the punctal plug may cause irritation and need to be replaced with a different size plug or removed altogether.

The punctal plug may fall out or need to be replaced.
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Suite 15, Mater Medical Centre
76 Willetts Road
Mackay QLD 4740


(07) 4942 3301


(07) 4942 9815
Fig 1. Location of tear duct openings.
Image - Location of tear duct openings
Fig 2. Illustration of punctal plugs.
Image - Punctal plugs


The information provided here is for general education only and should not be construed as individual medical advice. For advice relevant to your particular situation, please speak to Dr Hornsby.