The key to treating dry eye? Accurate diagnosis. Learn how eye docs determine its cause for effective treatment.
As with most things, your first step in getting treatment for dry eye (commonly referred to as Dry Eye Disease or Dry Eye Syndrome) is getting a confirmed diagnosis from our eye care professional.
Dry eye can be caused by a multitude of underlying causes. Therefore, our optometrist at our clinic will require a complete health history and a comprehensive eye exam, as well as specialized tests to determine the cause and severity of your dry eye. Here are the tests that we utilize for the diagnosis of dry eye.
The Schirmer Test is a common test for determining whether a patient has dry eye. This test, also known as a basal secretion test, measures aqueous tear production in the eyes. The test involves the doctor placing blotting strips (small strips of paper with measurement lines) just inside each eye’s lower eyelid, then have the patient close their eyes slowly. The moisture moving down the strip determines the level of tear production. This test usually takes around 5 minutes.
The test is not painful, though the patient may receive numbing drops to reduce discomfort during the test.
In this test, which is similar to the Schirmer Test, a special red thread is used to measure tear production. In comparison to the Schirmer test, the Phenol Red Thread Test causes less reflex tearing, and, taking just 15 seconds, is much easier to administer to children. However, the test may need to be performed more than once to completely assess the severity of a patient’s dry eye.
In the slit lamp test, our eye doctor uses a microscope called a slit lamp to check if your eyes are producing enough tears. A thin, bright light will be shined into your eye as we look at it with a microscope.
This test checks how long a patient’s tear film (the layer of tears which covers the eyes) lasts after the eye blink. For the test, a small amount of dye will be placed in the eye, and the patient will be asked to blink so it fully covers the eye. Then, as the patient looks forward without moving or blinking their eyes, our eye doctor will observe how long the dyed tear film remains covering the eyes. The less time it lasts, the more likely the patient has dry eye (a tear breakup time of less than 10 seconds is considered abnormal).
This is a patient response questionnaire, which allows the patient to describe their experiences, and uses the answers to the questions to determine if dry eye symptoms are detected. If they are, both imaging of the meibomian glands and a gland evaluation are recommended.
This is a technology that Amplify EyeCare has invested in, which takes high-resolution images of the meibomian glands. This helps our optometrist understand the underlying cause of your symptoms. Over 80% of dry eye sufferers have blockage in these glands; this test allows for a more effective treatment of the root cause.
This is a specialized diagnostic instrument which provides a standardized, repeatable examination of meibomian gland function. It functions by applying the same pressure of a deliberate blink as it observes the gland function through a slit lamp. This lets your eye doctor assess gland function, as well as track progression of any condition and treatment.
This type of testing allows the doctor to precisely measure the stability and health of the tear film. In the test, a small micro fluid sample of tears is collected and analyzed by a device, which displays a number score based on the analysis. A score below 300 along with a difference of less than 8 mOsms/L (Osmolarity) is an indication that the tear film is stable. Higher scores indicate an unstable tear film, at which point treatment options can be discussed.
This type of testing allows us to precisely measure the stability and health of your tear film. A score below 300 along with a difference of less than 8 mOsms/L (Osmolarity) is an indication that the tear film is stable. Higher scores indicate an unstable tear film, at which point treatment options can be discussed at our optometry clinic.
When you come in for an appointment, our eye doctor will determine, based on the symptoms you report, which test is most likely to provide the right information so we can determine the exact nature of your dry eye problem, and start working on treatment plans. If you would like to schedule a dry eye exam, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.