The Dry Eye Zone

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Abstract: The use of punctal plugs in children

The use of punctal plugs in children.

To evaluate the safety and efficacy of punctal plugs in children with dry eye syndrome.

A retrospective case series of patients who had an insertion of silicone punctal plugs for dry eye syndrome. Data collected included presenting symptoms, signs, systemic disorders if present, type of anaesthesia and complications by the time of last follow-up.

Twenty-five patients (median age at insertion 7 years, range 1.5-13.8 years) were identified. Median follow-up was 18 months. The commonest symptoms were photophobia, soreness and blepharospasm, and the commonest sign was punctate epithelial erosions. Concurrent systemic disease was present in 18/25 patients. Repeated procedures were carried out in eight of 25 patients. Twenty-four of 35 insertions were performed under general anaesthesia. A substantial improvement in ocular surface disease was noted in all cases: frequency of lubricant use was reduced in eight of 25 and visual acuity improved in 15/25 patients. Spontaneous extrusion was the commonest complication and occurred within 6 months in 19% of cases.

Dry eye syndrome in children is often accompanied by systemic disease, so in a child with persistent symptoms this should be explored. Punctal plugs offer a safe and effective form of treatment especially as compliance of frequent lubrication is limited in children.

Br J Ophthalmol. 2011 Oct 22. [Epub ahead of print]
Mataftsi A, Subbu RG, Jones S, Nischal KK.
Great Ormond St Hospital for Children, London, UK.