Do you often experience itchy, dry, irritated eyes? Are your eyes constantly red and burning? You might be suffering from dry eyes. Dry eyes occur when your eyes are unable to produce enough tears to keep them moisturized. But how does an optometrist test for dry eyes? 

In this blog, we will go over the different tests that optometrists commonly use to diagnose dry eyes and provide effective treatment plans.

Thorough Health History

The first step in diagnosing dry eyes is to conduct a thorough health history from you. They will ask you various questions about your symptoms and medical history to get a better understanding of your condition. Additionally, they may ask you to fill out a clinical questionnaire to assess the severity of your symptoms.

Assessing the Lid Margin

After taking a thorough case history, the eye doctor will start evaluating your eyes under a microscope. They will assess your lid margin and check for any blockages in the oil glands that may cause your tears to evaporate more quickly. They will also evaluate how even your lid margin is and look for any scalloping.

Assessing Tear Quality

Next, the optometrist will assess the quality of your tears by putting a green dye into your eye and using blue light to evaluate your tear film. They will also measure your tear breakup time to determine how long your tears stay on the surface of your eyes. If your tears evaporate quickly, it may indicate that you have dry eyes.

Tear Volume and Production Tests

The optometrist will also conduct various tests to assess your tear volume and production. The Schirmer test measures the amount of tears produced over five minutes using a strip of paper with measurements on it. The Phenol Red test is a similar test that uses a piece of thread instead of a strip of paper. Both tests compare your tear volume to a standardized norm to determine if you have dry eyes.

Infrared Imaging of the Meibomian Glands

The eye doctor will use advanced technology that helps them see the inside of your oil glands and determine if they are blocked, truncated, or atrophied. This information helps your optometrist determine the best course of treatment for you. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is when the oil glands in our eyelids do not produce enough lipids to cover the tear film which creates an environment where the tears evaporate faster and can lead to inflammation. MGD is one of the leading causes of dry eye, with one study showing that 86% of people with dry eye have MGD. 

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