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Punctual Plugs

Punctal plugs are another type of device designed to help provide relief from dry eye symptoms. They are small devices which are placed in the tear ducts (puncta) of the eyes, and help prevent fluid from draining from the eyes. This helps keep the surface of the eyes more moist, and to relieve the itching, burning sensations that come with dry eye.

Punctual Plugs in Bellflower

What are Punctal Plugs?

Punctual plugs are tiny devices (about the size of a grain of rice) which are inserted into the tear ducts (puncta) of the eyes, which assist the draining of fluid from the eyes. This keeps the eyes more moist, which helps relieve the painful itching or burning which can come with dry eye.

These plugs are generally inserted in the puncta in the upper or lower eyelids (or both if necessary), and there is a different available plug type which is placed in another part of the tear duct (the canaliculus).

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When are Punctal Plugs Used?

Punctual plugs are used when patients are suffering from dry eye, which is when their eyes are not making enough tears or tears of poor quality, leading to dry, irritated eyes. Often, eyedrops are used to moisten the surface of the eyes and treat dry eye, but for some people having punctal plugs inserted can greatly increase their comfort.

Types of Punctal Plugs

Temporary/ Dissolving Plugs

These punctal plugs are made of a material which naturally breaks down over time and is safely absorbed by the body. (Collagen is often used for these.) This type of plug can remain in the eyes anywhere from a few days to several months, and are often used to help ensure the eyes remain moist following refractive surgery like LASIK (dry eye is very common following surgical procedures). They are also a good option for those interested in trying out punctal plugs to relieve dry eye without a long term commitment.

Semi-Permanent Plugs

Semi-permanent plugs are made out of a longer lasting medical plastic, and are designed to stay in the eye for years. They cannot be seen at all in the eyes, and can be removed by an ophthalmologist if the need arises.

Types of Punctal Plugs
How Are Punctal Plugs Inserted?

How Are Punctal Plugs Inserted?

The first step to getting punctal plugs inserted is for the doctor to examine your eyes to determine which type and size of plugs are best for you.

Then, either your tear ducts may be numbed (your doctor will determine if this is necessary, and the plug is placed into your eyelid. You might feel some pressure as the punctal plug is inserted, but discomfort should be minimal, and you should be able to resume normal activities immediately after the procedure.

How Are Punctal Plugs Inserted?

Possible Risks and Side Effects

As with all procedures and treatments, punctal plugs come with some potential risks and side effects.

The most commonly experienced minor side effect is an irritating or scratchy feeling in the corner of your eyes where the plugs are. In most cases, this feeling eventually goes away, or patients become used to it.

A more problematic side effect is that the plugs make your eyes overly watery with too many tears. If this occurs, the plugs may need to be removed or replaced with a different type.

It is uncommon, but possible for the plugs to move or come out of the eyes (usually as a result of rubbing the eyes.)

Punctal plugs can sometimes cause irritation of the tear ducts, leading to inflammation and swelling. If left untreated, this inflammation can lead to damage to the tear ducts.

If the plugs don’t fit properly, they can stick out of the tear ducts and cause irritation by rubbing against the eye or eyelid.

Eye infections due to punctal plugs can occur, though this is very rare. In such cases, treatment will be required for the infection, and your doctor may decide to remove the plugs.

If you experience any sort of side effect after receiving your punctal plugs, contact your doctor immediately for advice on what to do.

Which Patients Should Not Get Punctal Plugs?

Punctal plugs are not for everyone. Certain conditions can make it inadvisable to get them; your doctor will let you know if this is a case during your consultation.

Patients who have an active infection, issues with the drainage of the lacrimal system, or sensitivity to the material the plugs are made of, should not get punctal plugs. Additionally, if a patient has allergic conjunctivitis, punctal plugs should be avoided as they could result in allergens remaining on the ocular surface. Patients with severe blepharitis should also avoid punctal plugs.

When Are Punctal Plugs Removed, and What is the Process for That?

If certain serious side effects occur, your doctor may opt to remove your punctal plugs.

Most punctal plugs can be removed without surgery, by simply using forceps to pull them from the tear ducts or flushing them out with a saline solution.

Punctal plugs which were inserted deeper (inside the canaliculus) have to be surgically removed.

Types of Punctal Plugs
How Are Punctal Plugs Inserted?

Speak With Our Doctor About Punctal Plugs

If other treatments for dry eye, such as eye drops or artificial tears, haven’t done enough to relieve your symptoms, punctal plugs may be what you need. Contact Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach at (562) 925-6591 to schedule a consultation today. Following an examination, our doctor will be able to make a recommendation for you.

Dr. Ikeda cartoon


Punctal plugs are devices that can be inserted into the tear ducts to help relieve dry eye symptoms. If you would like to learn more about punctal plugs or schedule a dry eye exam at Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach, call (562) 925-6591. Patients with dry eyes visit our clinic from all over California, and we are proud to be a leading provider of dry eye care for patients from Bellflower, Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles.

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I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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