An eye doctor must be consulted to confirm if you do have dry eyes and to determine the severity of the condition. Tell the doctor all the medications you have been taking, the environmental conditions in your residence and place of work, as well as the general status of your health. This will allow the doctor to make a complete and comprehensive assessment and diagnosis.
Dry eyes can be examined using a specialized microscope called a slit lamp. The device will help the doctor check the quantity and quality of your tears and conduct an examination of the front portion of your eyes. The doctor will also test if there is any area that is incapable of producing any tears.
Other Procedures to Detect Dry Eyes
Rose Bengal or Lissamine Green Staining
In this procedure, a dye is dropped into the patient’s eye so that the doctor can easily see any damaged tissue on the front of the eye. This test, however, is not administered that often because it is uncomfortable. This is particularly evident with Rose Bengal staining. Lissamine Green on the other hand is far less uncomfortable. A dry eye may also be further irritated by this test, but will only be temporary.
The Schirmer Test
The Schirmer Test is done to check the amount of tears that the patient’s eye can produce in a given period.
The test is done by using a special filter paper or, in some cases, a special thread. The filter paper or the thread is placed in the area between the patient’s eye and the lower part of the eyelid. The paper or the thread is then left in the eye for around 5 minutes. The doctor can then determine the quantity of tears produced by the eye.
The Schirmer Test, however, is not administered that often. Oftentimes, it is used only when dry eye syndrome has become extremely severe.
Tear Film Break-up Time
The tear film break-up time test is administered to check the amount of time after blinking before a patient’s eye starts to dry out. It is carried out through the following steps:
• A special dye is placed on the eye using eye drops. This will allow the doctor to see the tears easily.
• The patient is asked to blink several times to ensure that the dye is in the tears.
• The patient will be asked to stop blinking and to keep the eyes open.
• Using a colored light to follow the dye, the doctor will see how long it will take from the last blink before dry patches start to form. These dry patches will be highlighted by the dye.
• If there is a patch of dryness that shows up before ten seconds, it is an indication of the patient having dry eyes.
The test is safe as the dye will only stay in the eye for a short time. Neither will it alter the color of the patient’s eye.