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Dev Ophthalmol. 2008;41:213-29. doi: 10.1159/000131091.

Surgical occlusion of the lacrimal drainage system.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany. g.geerling@augenklinik,



If a lacrimal plug that successfully improves dry eye symptoms is spontaneously lost or causes unwanted effects other than epiphora, surgical occlusion of the lacrimal drainage system should be considered. Here we review current irreversible and reversible techniques to occlude the lacrimal drainage and describe a new surgical technique, termed 'punctum switch', which has the advantage of being permanent and yet potentially is reversible.


A PubMed search was performed to identify the current literature on surgical occlusion of the puncta and canaliculi for dry eyes. The characteristics of the procedures are described, classifying them as temporary or permanent and their localization being either on the level of the lacrimal puncta or canaliculi. A 'punctum switch' graft involves a superficial excision of a piece of lid margin including the punctum. This graft is then rotated and fixated so that the excised punctum comes to rest lateral to the remaining lacrimal ampulla, which in turn is covered by full-thickness lid margin tissue.


Established methods include cauterizing or ligating the puncta or canaliculi as well as everting the medial portion of the lid. Both thermal and surgical techniques show a high rate of reopening. If permanent occlusion is achieved, this however often is irreversible and can only be treated by means of lacrimal bypass surgery. The 'punctum switch' procedure can achieve long-term occlusion of the canalicular system while offering potential reversibility.


A large variety of surgical techniques to occlude the nasolacrimal drainage system exists. These vary significantly in terms of complexity and reversibility. Surgical occlusion should be used more often in patients with moderate or severe dry eye, which previously responded well to temporary occlusion with plugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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