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Surgery for Severe Dry Eyes

Dry eye is a common vision problem that is estimated to affect millions of Americans of all ages and lifestyles. Many people will find that their dry eye is mildly irritating, but if they suffer regular or severe episodes, the condition can be quite debilitating and start to affect their quality of life.


Common symptoms of dry eyes include:


  • Itching, scratchiness, and general eye irritation

  • Stinging or burning inside the eye

  • Eyes that look red, inflamed, and irritated

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Eye fatigue

  • Blurred vision


Dry eye usually occurs for one of several reasons:


  • The eyes don’t make enough tear film

  • The quality is compromised, such as by there not being enough oil included in the balance of substances that create tear film

  • Tear film drains from the eyes too quickly


In most cases, the symptoms of dry eye can be alleviated using over-the-counter treatments like eye drops and warm compresses on the eyes. However, if your dry eye is caused by the tear film draining away from your eyes too quickly, most of these treatments won’t be effective. Instead, your eye doctor will need to explore ways of keeping moisture on the surface of your eyes for longer. There is one highly effective way to achieve this – a type of surgery known as punctual occlusion, which is recommended for patients with severe dry eyes.


What is Punctal Occlusion?


Punctal occlusion focuses on reducing how quickly tear film leaves the surface of the eyes. This can be done temporarily, or permanently depending on how severely you are affected.  Temporary plugs usually dissolve a few days after insertion, while permanent varieties will have to be removed surgically if you wish to stop treatment.


Punctal occlusion is performed as an outpatient, meaning there is no need to stay in overnight. Your eyes will be numbed using eye drops so that you can’t feel any discomfort during the procedure. No needle anesthetic will be used. Once your eyes are numb, your doctor will pull your eyelid up and ask you to look towards the outside of your head, away from your nose. Tiny forcep-like tools will be used to place the punctal plugs into the corner of your eye, and another tool will gently push them into the natural drainage channels. Once in place, you will be asked to blink. This will get the plugs wet and cause them to expand, completely filling the channel and blocking it.


Punctal plugs are usually placed into either the top and bottom tear ducts or just the lower ones. The entire surgery takes just a few minutes per eye, and there is no downtime, although your eyes may remain numb for a few hours after you return home. Complications are rare and most patients find that the treatment is very effective.


If you are suffering from severe dry eyes and think that surgery could help to resolve your symptoms, or if you have any questions about punctal occlusion, contact Fier Eye Care & Surgery Center in Port St. Lucie or Stuart, Florida. You can call us at (772) 400-2400 or (772) 286-0007 to schedule a consultation.  

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