How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

Your eyes need tears to stay comfortable and healthy. You have dry eye syndrome if your eyes produce insufficient tears or when they produce poor quality tears that cannot maintain eye moisture. This condition affects up to 50 percent of all adults. If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can cause declining vision and damage to the corneal surface. 


How Do Tears Work?


Every time you blink, a tear film spreads over your eye, keeping its surface clear and smooth. The tear film consists of three layers, i.e.:


  • A mucus layer

  • A watery layer

  • An oily layer


The inner layer of the tear film is the mucus layer. It helps spread the watery layer to keep the eye’s surface moist and comes from the conjunctiva inside the eyelid. Without this layer, your tears would not stick to your eyes. 


The middle layer of the tear film is the watery layer, which makes up most of what you see as tears. It cleans the eye and gets rid of particles in the eye. The lacrimal glands in the eyelid produce this layer.


The oily layer, made in the meibomian glands, is the outer layer of the tear film. It prevents tears from drying up too quickly and smooths the tear film’s surface. 


Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome


  • Dry, red, or irritated eyes

  • Eyelid inflammation

  • Itchiness

  • Eyelid discomfort

  • Burning

  • Foreign body sensation

  • Watery eyes

  • Sore or sensitive eyes

  • Blurriness


Dry Eye Syndrome Assessment


Your eye doctor will assess your symptoms and their severity to determine the appropriate diagnostic tests. The assessment will help rule out other eye conditions or health problems that may cause similar symptoms. 


Diagnostic Tests


Schirmer’s Test

Your eye doctor may use this test to determine whether your eyes produce sufficient tears to maintain moisture. It is the most common and basic dry eye test.




Optometrists use this test to assess the saltiness or osmolarity of the tears. A low and stable tear osmolarity across both eyes ensures that your eyes remain moist and healthy. Tears with excessively high osmolarity can damage the surface of your eye, leading to dry eye syndrome.



Meibomian gland dysfunction is one of the most common causes of chronic dry eyes. If you suffer from dry eyes, your eye doctor will assess the health of your meibomian glands using LipiScan®. The diagnostic imaging device provides high-resolution images of the upper and lower meibomian glands. 


Phenol Red Thread Test


Eye doctors use this test to evaluate the overall volume of the patient’s tears to check for a diminished aqueous layer. That can prevent tears from spreading across your eye’s surface adequately, leading to dry eyes.


Tear Breakup Time

This test aims to determine the time it takes for the patient’s tears to evaporate. When evaporation happens too quickly, your tears cannot effectively lubricate your eyes, resulting in dry eyes. 




Eye care professionals use this specialized diagnostic tool to determine whether your tears have elevated levels of MMP-9. High levels of this protein can indicate eyelid inflammation, a typical dry eye symptom.


Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you will receive the appropriate treatment to reduce discomfort. 


For more on dry eye syndrome, contact Westchester Eyes & Aesthetics at our Yonkers, New York office. Call 914-586-EYES (3937) to schedule an appointment today.

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