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Dry Eye Syndrome (cont.)

What Questions Should People Ask Their Doctor About Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Is there a specific cause for my dry eyes?
  • What is the most effective treatment for my dry eyes?
  • Is there anything I can do to decrease the need for eyedrops or artificial tears?

What Exams and Tests Diagnose Dry Eye Syndrome?

Your eye doctor will take a thorough history of your eye and medical health, noting any conditions that might cause or worsen dry eyes.

During your eye examination, your eye doctor may perform the following tests.

  • The front of your eyes are examined using a special microscope called a slit lamp microscope.
    • The amount and thickness of the tear film is inspected.
    • The stability of the tear film is assessed by checking the tear break-up time (the time it takes for the tear layer to evaporate between blinks).
    • The conjunctiva and cornea are examined for signs of dryness using special dyes. The eyelids are checked for signs of meibomian gland dysfunction and for proper, complete blinking.
    • A complete eye exam may also reveal signs of an underlying medical condition that exacerbates the dry eye.
  • Different dyes may be used during your eye examination.
    • Fluorescein is a yellow dye that stains the dry cornea where the epithelial cells (ocular surface) have been worn away due to the lack of an adequate protective tear film.
    • Rose bengal is a red dye that stains the cornea and the conjunctiva where the cells are unhealthy due to chronic dryness. Lissamine green is a green dye that likewise can help differentiate between normal and abnormal ocular surface cells of the cornea and conjunctiva.
  • Schirmer tests measure the amount of tears produced by your eyes. In this test, your eye doctor places the end of a thin strip of filter paper just inside the lower eyelid. After a minute, the filter paper is removed, and the amount of wetting is measured. Less wetting of the filter paper is more indicative of DES.
  • The osmolarity (salt content) of the tears may be measured. If autoimmune diseases are suspected as a cause of DES, blood tests may be performed to look for markers of various autoimmune conditions.
  • Rarely, a biopsy may be taken (for example a biopsy of the conjunctiva to look for cicatricial pemphigoid).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/26/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dry Eye Syndrome »

Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the tears and the ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance, and tear film instability with potential damage to the ocular surface.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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