Ophthalmic Procedures

At Gulf Coast Eye Center, we provide many services and perform various procedures. For more information about the ophthalmic procedures we perform, select the topic in the menu below.

What is a cataract?

With a clear normal lens, the images are focused clearly on the retina (LEFT IMAGE). Vision is clear. With a cataract, the lens is cloudy, causing the image to become blurred and yellowed (RIGHT IMAGE). Vision is hazy, and colors become faded. Cataracts can be treated with surgery and the use of intraocular lenses (IOLs).

                 

What causes cataracts?

A cataract is caused by a change in the chemical composition of the lens. The most common cause for this change is the natural aging process. As we mature, the normally flexible, clear material of the lens becomes hard and cloudy. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the development of cataracts. Everyone who lives long enough will eventually develop cataracts. Most people who develop cataracts don’t go on to need cataract surgery.

Although most commonly seen in adults after the age of 40, cataracts can occur at any age. The condition may be present at birth or caused by an injury to the eye. Infections and other eye diseases, such as glaucoma and eye tumors, may cause the development of a cataract. Vision loss is usually gradual as a cataract develops.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?
• Dimming or blurring of vision
• Halos or glare around lights
• Double vision
• Colors appear less brilliant
• Feeling of “film” over the eyes
• Frequent changing or cleaning of glasses
• Difficulty driving or reading

What to Expect on Surgery Day:

You will arrive at the surgery center about an hour prior to your procedure.  Once you have been checked in you may be offered a sedative to help you relax.  You will then be prepared for surgery.  The area around your eyes will be cleaned and a sterile drape will be applied around your eye.  Eye drops or a local anesthetic will be used to numb your eyes.  When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

A very small incision will be made and a tiny ultrasonic probe will be used to break up the cataract into microscopic particles using high-energy sound waves.  This is called phacoemulsification.

The cataract particles will be gently suctioned away.  Then, a folded intra-ocular lens (IOL), or multifocal IOL lens, (see ReSTOR) will be inserted through the micro-incision, then unfolded and locked into permanent position.  The small incision is “self sealing” and usually requires no stitches.  It remains tightly closed by the natural outward pressure within the eye. This type of incision heals fast and provides a much more comfortable recuperation.

You will go home soon after the surgery and relax for the rest of the day.  Everyone heals somewhat differently, but many patients report improvement in their vision later in the day of the procedure.  Most patients return to their normal activities within a day or two.

When we remove a cataract we remove the natural lens inside of the eye.  At the same surgery setting we will place an intraocular lens (IOL) to restore vision.  Without this IOL vision after cataract surgery would be very poor.  These IOLs are made of clear plastics (acrylic or silicone variants).  The IOLs are designed to last a lifetime and rarely (~ 1 in 500) ever need to be replaced.  Most patients are best served by a monofocal IOL that will give them good vision at distance without glasses.  These patients will still need glasses for some near vision tasks.  About 15-20% of patients will choose a multifocal IOL, since ReStor , since about 80% of these patients will be able to go without glasses for distance and near vision tasks.

The best candidates for the multifocal IOLs are: patients whose only eye problem is a cataract. Farsighted patients are better candidates than nearsighted patients, and patients with significant astigmatism are frequently not good multifocal IOL candidates.

The multifocal IOL is also more expensive because of the cost of the lens and extra testing needed for this type of cataract surgery.

Gulf Coast Eye Center now offers the new breakthrough procedure in cataract surgery to correct your vision with the ACRYSof® ReSTOR® IOL lens. Cataract surgery has undergone tremendous technological advances since the days of your parents and grandparents. This year, millions of patients will choose to have both their vision and their lifestyles restored, thanks to this life-changing medical procedure.

The good news is that you’ve encountered cataracts at a time when intraocular lens technology has taken a giant leap forward. No longer is the objective simply to restore your distance vision with a mono-focal IOL. Today, the goal is to enhance your vision with an IOL that may provide you with a full range of vision, thus minimizing your dependence on glasses, including reading glasses or bifocals.

Once you understand what a cataract is, how it will be removed, and how your vision may be improved with the ACRYSof® ReSTOR® IOL, your concern about your diagnosis could actually turn into excitement.

A cataract can be the reason sharp images become blurred, bright colors become dull, or seeing at night is more difficult. It may also be why the reading glasses or bifocals that used to help you read, or do other simple tasks, no longer seem to help. Unfortunately, cataracts can’t be prevented, but removing the cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens can restore your vision and in many ways, significantly improve your quality of life. The time to have your cataracts removed is when the quality of your vision begins to put limits on your activities and enjoyment of life.

How Cataracts Develop
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside your eye. This lens, located behind the iris (or colored part of the eye) works just like the lens of a camera–focusing light images on the retina, which sends the images to your brain.

The human lens, made mostly of protein and water, can become clouded – so clouded it keeps light and images from reaching the retina. Eye injury, certain diseases, or even some medications can cause the clouding. But, in over 90% of cases,  clouding is caused by the aging process. A cataract is not a “film” over the eye, and neither diet nor lasers will make it go away. The best way to treat a cataract is to remove the old, clouded lens and provide a replacement.

What is Presbyopia?
When your eyes were young, your natural lens was both transparent and flexible. Because of this, your vision was most likely stable until you reached your forties. Around that time, you may have noticed that you had to hold a menu or a book farther and farther away to read it. Many people end up wearing a pair of reading glasses or bifocals to compensate for this aging of the eye. This condition is called “presbyopia” and eventually affects everyone, including those who are nearsighted, farsighted, have cataracts, or had perfect vision most of their life.

The AcrySof Family of Lenses
Intraocular lenses were first introduced in 1949 and are available today in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and lens materials. AcrySof® IOLs are made of the first foldable material developed exclusively for use in the eye. With more than 21 million lenses implanted, the AcrySof® lens is the most commonly used IOL in the world, since they became available in 1994. Its popularity is largely due to their ability to provide excellent visual results and a high level of patient satisfaction.

The ReSTOR IOL At Last! An Opportunity For Visual Freedom

For most cataract patients, life without reading glasses or bifocals is something they either experienced before presbyopia or they just dreamed about for most of their lives. But today, the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL is turning those dreams into reality with its revolutionary lens technology, which is designed to allow patients to see clearly at all distances without bifocals or reading glasses. The AcrySof®ReSTOR® IOL is now available and delivers a high level of glasses-free vision for cataract patients.

Until recently, most patients had their vision improved with a  monofocal IOL. Although the quality of their distant vision was  excellent, most patients needed reading glasses to see near objects. AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL provides a full range of vision, decreasing the dependency on reading glasses or bifocals.

In the clinical study, 80% of patients receiving the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL reported that they never wear glasses for any activities. With the AcrySof®ReSTOR® IOL they can read a book, work on the computer, and drive a car – day or night – and play golf or tennis with an increased freedom from glasses. In fact, patients were so pleased with their vision, nearly 94% of patients said they would have the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL implanted again, if given the choice.

The Safest And Most Successful Procedure Performed Today
Cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis at our clinic and usually requires just a few hours of your time from start to finish. Your eye will be treated with anesthetic prior to the procedure so you’ll feel little, if any, discomfort. First, a tiny incision will be made in the eye allowing your surgeon to use a small instrument (about the size of a pen tip) to break up or wash away the cloudy cataract. Once the cataract is removed, the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL will be inserted through the same tiny incision and set into its permanent position.

What To Expect After The Procedure
After the procedure, you’ll rest for a short while before you go home. Your doctor will typically examine your eye within 24 hours. You’ll need to use prescription eye drops to guard against infection and help your eye heal. For a few days, you may need to wear a protective shield, especially at night, to prevent you from rubbing your eye. Everyone heals somewhat differently, but most patients see well enough to return to most of their routine activities the day after surgery. Once both eyes have been treated, you will fully appreciate the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL and realize that your cataract was one thing you could definitely live without.

Ask Your Doctor If The AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL Is Right For You
As with any surgical procedure there are inherent risks, and your results cannot be guaranteed. Your doctor will provide you with more detailed information about the potential risks and benefits to help decide whether cataract surgery and the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL is right for you.

A posterior capsulotomy is a non invasive laser procedure to eliminate the cloudiness that occasionally interferes with a patient’s vision after cataract surgery. In modern cataract surgery, the cataract is removed, but a thin membrane that held the cataract is left in place to hold the implanted artificial lens.

Leaving the capsule in place during cataract surgery is a great advancement because it allows the vision after surgery to be more stable and ensures fewer surgical complications. However, sometimes the posterior or back portion of the capsule, becomes cloudy over time. This can be resolved with a quick in-office laser procedure.

The capsular bag can become cloudy over time.

A posterior capsulotomy is for those who:

  • have had cataract surgery
  • believe that their vision is being affected by cloudiness.

What to expect on surgery day:

Once you have been checked in, drops will be used to numb your eye; no injections or needles are used. When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

The outer layer of the eye can be divided into three areas: the cornea, the sclera, and the limbus. The cornea is the clear part, or the window, that covers the iris and the pupil. The sclera is the white part of the eye. The limbus is the thin area that connects the cornea and the sclera.

Limbal relaxing incisions (LRIs) treat low to moderate degrees of astigmatism. As the name suggests, the surgeon makes small relaxing incisions in the limbus, which allow the cornea to become more rounded when it heals. LRIs are placed at the very edge of the cornea (in the limbus) on the steepest meridians. LRIs are often combined with other surgical and laser vision correction procedures and cataract surgery.

Limbal Relaxing Incision are for those:

  • who have astigmatism.
  • want to reduce or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contacts.
  • who have no health issues affecting their eyes.

Limbal relaxing incisions (LRI’s) are not able to correct larger amounts of astigmatism like Astigmatic Keratotomy (AK) and Laser Vision correction (LVC) are able to do. The main use of LRI’s is by combining this very brief (~2 minute) procedure with cataract surgery. At least 50% of our cataract patients receive these incisions which greatly reduce their dependence on glasses after cataract surgery and allow them to see very well without glasses for many activities.

What to expect on surgery day:

You will arrive at the laser center 30-60 minutes prior to your procedure. Once you have been checked in, you may be offered a sedative to help you relax. You will then be prepared for surgery. The area around your eyes will be cleansed and a sterile drape may be applied around your eyes. Anesthetic eye drops will be used to numb your eyes; no injections or needles will be used. When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

Next, marks will be made on the limbus. These impressions are temporary and used for marking where the surgeon will make the incisions. The marks are based upon a formula taking into account your prescription, age and the amount of correction needed. Next, tiny arc-shaped incisions will be made in your limbus. Finally, antibiotic drops will be applied and the eyelid holder will be removed. The actual surgery takes about five minutes, but with preoperative preparations, it can take up to an hour.

Following your procedure, you will be given additional eye drops, and your eye may be shielded for protection. Your vision will probably be a little blurry at first, so someone will need to drive you home. You should relax for the rest of the day. You may experience some discomfort, but this is usually alleviated with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Some people experience sensitivity to light, watering, or swelling of their eyes for a few days following the procedure.

Everyone heals differently, but most patients resume normal activities the next day. Some patients see a dramatic improvement in their vision within the first day. For others, vision may be blurry for several weeks.

Realistic Expectations:

The decision to have LRIs is an important one that only you can make. The goal of any refractive surgical procedure is to reduce your dependence on corrective lenses. However, we cannot guarantee you will have the results you desire.

Serious complications to LRIs are extremely rare. If you decide that LRIs are an option for you, you will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed. Be sure you have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction.

Laser surgery has become increasingly popular as an intermediate step between drugs and traditional glaucoma surgery. The most common type of laser surgery performed for open-angle glaucoma is called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). The objective of the surgery is to help fluids drain out of the eye, reducing intraocular pressure that can cause damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision.

Although your eye care professional may suggest SLT surgery at any time, it is often performed after trying to control intraocular pressure with medicines.  In many cases, you will need to keep taking glaucoma medications even after SLT surgery.

ALT is for those:

  • who have been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • Whose doctor has determined that SLT is appropriate for controlling their intraocular pressure.

What to expect on procedure day:

Your treatment will be performed in a specially equipped laser room. It does not require a surgery center. Once you have been checked in and settled comfortably, drops will be used to numb your eye; no injections or needles are used. When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.

Your doctor will hold a special lens to your eye as a high-energy beam of light is aimed at the lens and reflected onto the trabecular meshwork inside your eye. You may see flashes of bright green or red light.  Your doctor will make 50-100 evenly-paced laser applications in 5-10 minutes. This will be done in one or two treatment sessions. The laser beam will cause some areas of your eyes drain to shrink, resulting in adjacent areas stretching open to permit the fluid to drain faster. You will not feel any pain during the procedure.

Your eye pressure will be checked shortly after your procedure, and drops may be prescribed to alleviate any soreness or swelling inside your eye. You should relax for the rest of the day. Follow-up visits are necessary to monitor your eye pressure. While it may take a few weeks to see the full pressure-lowering effect of this procedure, during which time you may have to continue taking your medication, many patients are eventually able to discontinue some of their medications. Most patients resume normal activities within one or two days.

Realistic Expectations:

The effect of the surgery may wear off over time, but the SLT procedure can be repeated to regain control of the eye pressure. Serious complications with SLT are extremely rare, but like any surgical procedure, it does have some risks. You will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed. Be sure you have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction.

Laser iridotomy is a treatment for narrow-angle glaucoma. In laser iridotomy, a small hole is placed in the iris to create a hole for fluid to drain from the back of the eye to the front of the eye. Without this new channel through the iris, intraocular pressure can build rapidly causing damage to the delicate optic nerve and permanent loss of vision.

In most patients, the iridotomy is placed in the upper portion of the iris, under the upper eyelid, where it cannot be seen.

A small hole is placed in the iris to create a hole for fluid to drain from the back of the eye to the front of the eye

Laser iridotomy is for those:

  • who have been diagnosed with narrow-angle glaucoma
  • whose doctor has determined that laser iridotomy is the appropriate treatment for their condition.

What to expect on surgery day:

Your treatment will be performed in a specially equipped laser room. It does not require a surgery center. Once you have been checked in and settled comfortably, drops will be used to numb your eye; no injections or needles are used.

First, your ophthalmologist will place a drop in your eye to make your pupil smaller. This stretches and thins your iris, which makes it easier for the laser to make the pinhole-sized puncture. Next your doctor will place a special contact lens on your eye to focus the laser light upon the iris. This lens keeps your eyelids separated so you won’t blink during treatment. It also reduces small eye movements so that you don’t have to worry about your eye moving during the treatment. To ensure that the contact lens doesn’t scratch your eye, a special jelly will be placed on the surface of your eye. This jelly may remain on your eye for about 30 minutes, leading to blurred vision or a feeling of heaviness.

During the laser treatment, you may see a bright light, like a photographer’s flash from a close distance. Also, you may feel a pinch-like sensation. Other than that, the treatment should be painless.

Your eye pressure will be checked shortly after your procedure, and drops may be prescribed to alleviate any soreness or swelling inside your eye. Follow-up visits are necessary to monitor your eye pressure.

Your doctor may ask you to continue using eye drops to make your pupil smaller for a few days following your laser treatment. These drops can temporarily cause blurred vision (especially at night) and may also give you a slight headache. Your doctor may use other drops, both before and after your treatment to control your eye pressure. Still other eye drops may be used to reduce inflammation.

Everyone heals differently, but most people resume normal activities immediately following treatment, although you’ll need to have someone drive you home after your procedure. For the next few days your eyes may be red, a little scratchy, and sensitive to light.

Realistic Expectations:

Serious complications with laser iridotomy are extremely rare, but like any medical procedure, it does have some risks. The chance of losing vision following a laser procedure is extremely small. The main risks of a laser iridotomy are that your iris might be difficult to penetrate, requiring more than one treatment session. Another risk is that the hole in your iris will close. This happens in less than one-third of the cases.

Following your procedure, you may still require medications or other treatments to keep your eye pressure sufficiently low. This additional treatment will be necessary if there was damage to the trabecular meshwork prior to the iridotomy, or if you also have another type of glaucoma in addition to the closed-angle type.

If you and your doctor decide that laser iridotomy is an option for you, you will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed. Be sure you have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction.

Filtration surgery, also called trabeculectomy, is a treatment for several types of glaucoma including open-angle and narrow-angle glaucoma. It is often performed on patients who have not responded well to medication or laser treatment such as ALT or SLT. Filtration surgery usually provides a dramatic reduction in pressure within the eye.

A small channel or ‘bleb’ is created to allow fluid to drain from the eye

 

Filtration surgery is for those:

  • who have been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • whose doctor has determined that filtration surgery is an appropriate treatment for their condition.

What to expect on surgery day:

You will arrive at the surgery center 30-60 minutes prior to your procedure. Once you have been checked in and settled comfortably, you will be prepared for surgery. The area around your eyes will be cleansed and a sterile drape will be applied. You may be given a sedative to help you relax. Your eye will be numbed with topical or a local anesthesia. When your eye is completely numb, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking.

Using advanced microsurgical techniques and equipment, your doctor will create a tiny new channel between the inside of your eye and the outside of your eye. A small section of tissue will be removed, creating a channel, to allow fluid to pass through the blocked drainage network onto the white (sclera) of the eye. The incision will be closed with small stitches and covered with the thin outer tissue of the eye, called the conjunctiva. Blood vessels in the conjunctiva will carry the draining fluid away.

To keep the drainage channel open, your doctor may apply an extremely small dose of a chemotherapeutic agent to the new filter. Your eye pressure will be checked shortly after your procedure, and drops may be prescribed to alleviate any soreness or swelling inside the eye. You should go home and relax for the rest of the day. Most patients resume normal activities within a few days.

Follow-up visits are necessary to monitor your eye pressure. It may take a few weeks to see the full pressure-lowering effect of this procedure, and adjustments may need to be made to the filter during this period. These adjustments may include:

  • injection of small amounts of chemotherapeutic agents.
  • loosening or removal of one or more stitches.
  • finger pressure to the eye to force fluid through the filter.
  • numbing the eye and opening the channel slightly with a fine instrument.
  • placing a contact lens over the eye.

Realistic Expectations:

The success rate for this type of surgery is approximately 80 percent in cases where no surgery has been done on the eye before. However, everyone’s eyes are unique and many people do require further treatments. In more difficult cases where even filtration surgery doesn’t prevent damage to the ocular nerve, it may be necessary to perform other types of procedures.

Serious complications with filtration surgery are extremely rare, but like any surgical procedure, it does have some risks. Going to a specialist experienced in filtration surgery can significantly minimize the risks.

If you and your doctor decide that filtration surgery is an option for you, you will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed. Be sure you have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction.

Diabetic Retinopathy does not usually impair sight until the development of long-term complications, including proliferative retinopathy, a condition in which abnormal new blood vessels may rupture and bleed inside the eye. When this advanced stage of retinopathy occurs, pan-retinal photocoagulation is usually recommended.

Pan retinal photocoagulation stops vessels on the retina from leaking

During this procedure, a special laser is used to make tiny burns that seal the retina and stop vessels from growing and leaking. Hundreds of tiny spots of laser are placed in the retina to reduce the risk of vitreous hemorrhage and retinal detachment. Targeted laser applications can treat specific areas in the central vision that are leaking. The laser is used to destroy all of the dead areas of retina where blood vessels have been closed. When these areas are treated with the laser, the retina stops manufacturing new blood vessels, and those that are already present tend to decrease or disappear.

The goal of pan-retinal photocoagulation is to prevent the development of new vessels over the retina and elsewhere, not to regain lost vision.

Pan-retinal Photocoagulation is for those:

  • who have been diagnosed with proliferative retinopathy.
  • whose doctor has determined that pan-retinal photocoagulation is the appropriate treatment for their condition.

What to expect on procedure day:

Your treatment will be performed in a specially equipped laser room. It does not require a surgery center. It is usually performed without anesthesia, although some will want a local anesthetic.

Before your procedure begins, an eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking. Next, your ophthalmologist will begin laser treatment with an argon or diode laser. The laser treats the peripheral (outside) and middle portions of your retina. It does not treat the central or macular region because this would likely cause serious loss of vision.

The initial treatment usually consists of approximately 1500-2000 spots of laser per eye. This will be done in two or more sessions.

Your vision will be poor immediately after the treatment but will recover to the pre-treatment level over time. You should plan to have someone drive you home, and you should relax for the rest of the day. Most patients resume activities within a few days. Regular follow-up visits are required.

Expectations:

The goal of pan-retinal photocoagulation is to prevent the development of new vessels over the retina and elsewhere — not to regain lost vision. There is no improvement in vision after the laser treatment. Vision may decrease due to edema/swelling of the retina, after the laser treatment. It may improve to its previous level in two to three weeks or may remain permanently deteriorated. Recurrences of proliferative retinopathy may occur even after an initial satisfactory response to treatment.

This procedure sacrifices peripheral vision in order to save as much of the central vision as possible and to save the eye itself. Night vision will be diminished. After pan-retinal photocoagulation, blurred vision is very common. Usually, this blur goes away, but in a small number of patients some blur will continue forever.

Serious complications with pan-retinal photocoagulation are extremely rare, but like any surgical procedure, it does have risks. These risks can be minimized by going to a specialist experienced in pan-retinal photocoagulation.

If you and your doctor decide that pan-retinal photocoagulation is an option for you, you will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed. Be sure you have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction.

Fluorescein angiography is a clinical test to look at blood circulation in the retina at the back of the eye. It is used to diagnose retinal conditions caused by diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, and other retina abnormalities. The test can also help follow the course of a disease and monitor its treatment. It may be repeated on multiple occasions with no harm to the eye or body.

 

Fluorescein angiography camera

 

Fluorescein angiography is for those:

  • who have indications of retinal conditions.
  • whose doctor has determined that this test is needed for diagnosis of retinal conditions.

What to expect on testing day:

Your doctor may ask you not to eat the morning of your angiography. Your testing will most likely be performed in a specially equipped examination room. It does not require a surgery center or anesthesia. Prior to your procedure, your eye will be dilated.

During the test, a harmless orange-red dye called fluorescein will be injected into a vein in your arm. The dye will travel through your body to the blood vessels in your retina. Your doctor will use a special camera with a green filter to flash a blue light into your eye and take multiple photographs. He will analyze the pictures and identify any damage to the lining of the retina or to spot the growth of new blood vessels.

This diagnostic test takes about 30 minutes to an hour, including the time for dilation of your eye. You can go home immediately after the procedure. After your angiography, your skin and urine may appear discolored for a short time until the Fluorescein is completely out of your system.

Realistic expectations:

There is little risk in having fluorescein angiography, though some people may have mild allergic reactions to the dye that can cause itching, excessive sneezing, flushing of skin, and nausea. Severe allergic reactions have been reported, but very rarely. Occasionally, some of the dye leaks out of the vein at the injection site, causing a slight burning sensation that goes away quickly.

One way to alleviate dry eye is to help the eyes to make better and longer use of the small amount of lubricating tears they do produce. This is accomplished by closing off the small funnel-like drain hole found in the inner corner of the upper and lower eyelids. These drain holes, called punctums (yellow arrows) can be closed with tiny plugs called punctal plugs. The plugs can be placed in the two tear ducts, top and bottom, in both eyes or in only the lower ducts. The punctum can also be permanently closed with a heat or laser procedure.

Punctal plugs can be temporary or permanent. Temporary plugs dissolve a few days after insertion. If your dry eye symptoms disappear when the temporary plugs are inserted, your doctor may consider permanent punctal occlusion.

Punctal occlusion is for those:

  • who have been diagnosed with dry eye.
  • whose doctor has determined that punctal occlusion is the appropriate treatment for their condition.

What to expect on procedure day:

Your treatment will be performed in an examination room. It does not require a surgery center. Once you have been checked in and settled comfortably, drops will be used to numb your eye; no injections or needles are used.

Your doctor will pull your eyelid up and ask you to look toward the outside of your head, away from your nose. Using a forceps-like applicator, the plug will be placed into the corner of your eye, then released. An applicator or another tool will then be used to gently push the plug into your natural punctal opening and you’ll be asked to blink. Once the plugs get wet, they will expand to completely fill the opening. The entire procedure takes only a few minutes. Many patients report immediate relief from dry eye symptoms and resume normal activities immediately.

Realistic expectations:

Serious complications with punctal occlusion are extremely rare, but like any medical procedure, it does have some risks. If you experience side effects, your doctor can remove the plugs. Going to a specialist experienced in punctal occlusion can significantly minimize risks.

If you and your doctor decide that punctal occlusion is an option for you, you will be given additional information about the procedure that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed.