If lifestyle changes and medication do not relieve the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, NYU Langone ophthalmologists may recommend minimally invasive procedures to manage the condition. Doctors commonly recommend two procedures: punctal plug insertion and cauterization.
Punctal plugs are tiny plugs inserted into the puncta, which is the opening of the tear drainage duct in the corner of the eye. Blocking the puncta with a plug slows the drainage of tears, allowing moisture to remain on the eye’s surface for a longer period of time. This is a painless procedure, and an ophthalmologist can insert the plugs into the eyes in the doctor’s office in only a few minutes.
Occasionally, punctal plugs may cause excessive tearing or mild irritation, but these side effects are uncommon. Most people report that they don’t notice the plugs at all. There is no recovery time required for this procedure.
Rarely, if medications and punctal plugs do not successfully manage dry eye syndrome, NYU Langone doctors may recommend a procedure called cauterization. During cauterization, an ophthalmologist applies heat to the puncta in each eye, permanently closing the duct and thus preventing tears from draining out of the eyes. This procedure is performed in the ophthalmologist’s office. Your doctor administers local anesthesia to ensure that you feel no pain. Excessive tearing is a complication of cauterization, but it is uncommon.