Dry Eye Surgery
To help relieve dry eye syndrome, there are two types of dry eye surgery available, Punctal Occlusion and Salivary Gland Autotransplatation. However, surgery is usually only perused when all other treatments have been tried and have not helped relieve any of the symptoms.
Punctal occlusion is quick and painless. It involves your specialist inserting small plugs (punctal plugs) into your eyes to block your tear ducts. Your eyes should then remain moist as your tears will not be able to drain into the ducts.
There are two types of plugs available:
- Semi-permanent; usually made out of silicone.
- Dissolvable/ temporary; usually made of collagen, and dissolve naturally after a few days.
Temporary plugs are often used first to decide if the treatment will help to ease your dry eye condition. If the plugs do work, then semi-permanent ones can be put in.
A local anaesthetic may be used, although it can be done without, as it is not an uncomfortable process. At first the specialist will gently pull your eyelid up, whilst you look away from your nose. Using forceps the plugs will be placed into the corner of your eye. A different tool is then used to carefully push the plug into the opening. After you blink several times, the plugs will become wet, expand and cover your tear ducts.
The procedure is quick and only takes a few minutes and in most cases you should have instant relief from your dry eye symptoms.
The semi-permanent plugs should last indefinitely, although they can be removed easily by your specialist. This is done by using forceps and extracting the plug. Alternatively they can be flushed out using a saline solution. The plug is forced to exit into the nose or throat where the tear ducts drain.
Salivary gland autotransplantation
In 2012 salivary gland autotransplantation became a new procedure to help treat severe symptoms for dry eye. It is fairly uncommon and only recommended once all other treatments have been tried as it does involve a general anesthetic.
The procedure involves taking some of the glands that produce saliva from your bottom lip and transplanting them to the inner side of your eyelids. This is because the saliva produced by the glands act as a substitute for tears.