How Much Do Punctal Plugs Cost?
A punctal plug is a small medical device that is inserted into the tear duct (puncta) of an eye to block the duct. If you are experiencing eye problems, your ophthalmologist might diagnose you with “dry eyes.” If that is the case, you might be required to use punctual plugs to treat your dry eye or eyes. According to mayoclinic.com, “Dry eyes occur when your tears aren’t able to provide adequate moisture for your eyes. Tears can be inadequate for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you do not produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears. Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may sting or burn. You may experience dry eyes in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike, or after looking at a computer screen for a few hours.”
A punctal plug is basically a device inserted in the eye to prevent the drainage of liquid from the eye. This is one of the most common treatments for dry eyes. Punctal plugs may be temporary or permanent.
How much does it cost?
- The cost of punctual plugs may differ due to certain circumstances. For instance, the state or region, skill and experience of the doctor or ophthalmologist, hospital or eye clinic, age and condition of the patient, type of punctal plug (material, temporary, or permanent), and the whether one or both eyes require the procedure may affect the cost. On average, punctal plugs are going to cost anywhere from $200 to $450 without any sort of insurance. However, if you do have an insurance policy, be sure to talk with your company to see what is going to be covered. Major programs such as Medicare cover the procedure.
- According to Dryeyezone.com, punctal plugs cost around $240 to $340.
What is going to be included?
- A punctal plug is a small medical device that is inserted into the puncta or tear duct of an eye to block the duct. This device prevents the drainage of liquid from the eye, thus, treating “dry eye.”
- These plugs will never be permanent. They can either come as a trial version, which lasts a few weeks, or it can be short-term, lasting upwards of six months.
- General sizes of the plugs can range from 0.3 to 0.6mm.
- The procedure is fairly quick and should take less than 15 minutes. During the procedure, the ophthalmologist will place numbing drops in the eye and will then insert the plugs. When the plugs stretch, they will be inserted into the punctum.
- Common types of plugs include umbrella, tapered, hollow, reservoir and slanted. Each type has its own design and shape.
- Punctal plugs include temporary and permanent plugs. A temporary punctual occlusion can be inserted and tried first. These are usually made of collagen and are easily dissolved. A temporary punctal plug is used to make sure that insertion of permanent ones will not cause excessive tearing.
- Permanent punctal plugs usually include silicone material and they come in various sizes too. Usually, the largest size is used among patients. They can also be replaced when they become loose and fall out.
- Punctal plugs may also be made of thermally reactive material. Some of these are inserted into the punctum as a liquid and then they harden and conform to the individual’s drainage system. Others start out rigid and become soft and flexible, adapting to the individual’s punctal size. If the punctal plugs are effective, thermal or electrical cauterization of the puncti will then be made.
- There are pros and cons of receiving punctal plugs. The pros are the obvious – they are a safe method of treating dry eyes. The cons can include irritation if they are inserted when there is any inflammation in the eye. This can sometimes result in a reaction of the tissue which can cause granuloma.
What are the extra costs?
- Extra costs may be incurred for additional procedures required by the ophthalmologist on top of the insertion of punctual plugs in the patient’s puncti.
- In case of complications after the procedure is made, additional costs will be necessary for treatments and medications. Additional tests will also mean additional expenses on the part of the patient. This also includes follow-up visits to the doctor.
- Follow up visits will more than likely be needed annually to see how the plugs are working.
- Purchasing punctual plugs online may require additional costs for handling, shipping, or delivery.
- If you are going to have the temporary punctal plugs re-inserted once they have dissolved, you will have to pay for the procedure again.
Tips to know
- Discomfort may happen a few days after the procedure.
- Get a second opinion from another doctor so that you will be able to decide whether punctal plugs are necessary to treat your condition.