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Dilation & Irrigation

Recently in school we practiced a procedure on each other known as dilation and irrigation. (Note: We always practice procedures on each other before performing them on patients.) A lacrimal dilator is used (a piece of metal that is pointy at both ends) and inserted into the punctum (where the tears drain). Initially the smaller of the two ends is used. It is then rotated back and forth between ones fingers and then moved around in a stirring fashion (similar to how one would stir cake batter). This continues until the normally flesh colored punctum turns white. Then the larger end of the lacrimal dilator is inserted and the same procedure is followed. Next a needle is inserted. The punctum needs to be dilated in order for the needle to fit. In our proficiency test, sterile saline solution was squirted in. It actually isn't as bad as it seems.


Wow, that sounds like powerful, mind-numbing, all-encompassing, world-ending torturous agony. How can that be anything other than exactly as bad as it seems?

Whyever would anyone endure such agony? Why must anything be squirted into the tear ducts?

We are taught that if there is a blockage in the drainage system it might help to dislodge it.