How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

Dry eyes occur when your eyes cannot produce enough tears to remain lubricated. As a result, your eyes can feel uncomfortable, and you can experience vision problems. If you have scratchy and dry eyes, your doctor can use the following tests to diagnose dry eyes.


Comprehensive Eye Exam


Your eye doctor can diagnose if you have dry eyes by conducting an eye exam that evaluates your complete health and eye health history.


Schirmer’s Test


The Schirmer's test is the most common dry eye test. Your eye doctor will use it to determine if your eyes can produce tears that can adequately moisturize your eyes. During this test, your eye specialist will use a medical paper strip and place it inside your lower eyelids. Then they will ask you to close your eyes to allow the strip to absorb your tears. It will show the volume of water in your tear film.


Your eye doctor will examine how far the tears will travel after five minutes. If they travel for less than 15 mm, you have dry eyes.


Slit Lamp Test


During this test, your specialist will examine if your eyes are making adequate tears using a slit lamp. They will do so by putting a drop in your eye so they can see your tears easily. Next, your doctor will shine a thin light into your eyelids and eyes using a microscope.


Tear Breakup Time (TBUT)


Your eye doctor can examine your tear breakup time using this test. It can also analyze how much time it takes for tear evaporation. If your tears evaporate quickly, it results in dry eyes due to a lack of moisture for lubricating your eyes.


During the test, your specialist will touch your eye using a blotting paper containing fluorescein orange dye. The dye will spread when you blink and coat the tear film that covers your cornea. They will then use a blue light to make the tears glow and highlight corneal damage or any other problems caused by dry eyes.




You can get chronic dry eyes due to meibomian gland dysfunction, so it is essential to have your eyes’ health assessed. LipiScan® imaging device provides high-resolution digital images of your upper and lower meibomian glands. 


LipiScan can also give information concerning oil produced in the glands. It can detect the presence of bacteria affecting the tear quality and causing dry eye symptoms.




Your specialist can test the saltiness or osmolarity of your tears using TearLab®. Your eyes are moist and healthy if the osmolarity is stable and low. Healthy tears have a balanced combination of oil, water, and salt.


If there is a diminished tear quantity and quality, your tear osmolarity is very high. As a result, your eye surface can get damaged, and you can get dry eye. If the two eyes have a significant osmolarity difference, you have a dry eye condition.


During the test, your eye specialist collects your tear sample and uses a TearLab device to assess the osmolarity. It also provides quantitative diagnostic information by examining the makeup of your tears.


Phenol Red Thread Test


Your tear volume gets evaluated using this test. It determines whether the aqueous layer diminished to inhibit the spreading of the tears across your eye surface.


During the test, your specialist will use a red string thread and drape it over your eyes. They will observe the number of tears your eyes can produce within seconds. They will compare how each tear performs.


For more information about diagnosing dry eye, contact Today’s Vision at our office in San Antonio, Texas. Call (210) 307-4749 to book an appointment today.

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