Punctal plugs are small-sized medical devices used to treat dry eye. Dry eye is a disease wherein patients are not able to keep the eye comfortable and healthy, as no sufficient tears are produced. The dry eye syndrome is also known as keratitis sicca, dry eye disease, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. It causes issues with tears and the ocular surface, which leads to tear film instability and visual disturbances resulting in potential damage of the ocular surface. The early treatment of dry eye may help an individual prevent corneal scarring and ulcers. Punctal plugs are also used in the treatment of punctal stenosis and glaucoma and for ocular drug delivery. They can modulate the effect of other forms of topical treatment by increasing the drug retention time.
The tear drainage channel located in the inner corner of the eye is blocked by using the punctual plug device. The device is inserted in the puncta, opening of the tear duct. Tears are drained out from this channel through the back of the nose and are sent to the back of the throat. The punctal plug prevents tears from flowing out, as it acts as a dam. With the help of punctal plugs, eyes are kept moist with the patient’s own tears. Also, artificial tears can last long with the help of punctal plugs. Punctal plug devices can be inserted for a long duration of time, permanently, or for a short duration of time. Temporary punctal plugs are made of collagen, a material that is found in the skin and bones. Temporary punctal plugs have a unique property of dissolving over time. Permanent punctal plug devices are made of silicone. Some other materials used for punctal plug devices are acrylic, polydioxanone, and hydrogel.
Increasing advancements in designs and techniques drive the demand for punctal plug devices. The increasing prevalence of the dry eye syndrome is driving the punctal plug devices market. According to the Journal of Ophthalmology, 25% of patients visiting eye care clinics exhibit symptoms of dry eye. However, if the dry eye syndrome is not very severe, it can be treated by certain over-the-counter products such as ointments, gels, and artificial teardrops. These products act as a restraining factor for the global punctal plug devices market. Some complications associated with punctal plug devices such as chronic irritation, epiphora, migration, extrusion, biofilm formation, and canaliculitis may also restrain the market to a certain extent.
The global punctal plug devices market can be segmented based on duration of placement type, design type, end-user, and region. In terms of duration of placement type, the market can be categorized into temporary punctal plugs and permanent punctal plugs. Based on design type, the punctal plug devices market can be divided into straight shaft, stretched shaft, dual-lobe tip, slanted lip, perforated shaft, ribbed shaft, reservoired head, collapsible nose, and tapered shaft. Based on end-user, the market can be classified into hospital pharmacies, online pharmacies, eye health clinics, and retail pharmacies.
Geographically, the global punctal plug devices market can be segmented into Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, North America, and Middle East & Africa. North America holds the leading market share, owing to high prevalence of the dry eye syndrome. According to Physicians’ Health Studies (PHS) and Women’s Health Studies (WHS), approximately 1.6 million men and 3.2 million women aged 50 years and above in the U.S. suffer from the dry eye syndrome of moderate to severe level.
Key players operating in the global punctal plug devices market are Oasis Medical, Lacrimedics, Inc., Beaver-Visitec International, FCI Ophthalmics, Surgical Specialties Corporation, Lacrivera (a division of Stephens Instruments), AlphaMed, and Medennium.