How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

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If your eyes are constantly dry, irritated, and gritty, you may have a condition called dry eye syndrome. But how can you be sure? The first step is to get a comprehensive eye exam so your eye doctor can perform a series of tests to diagnose your symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the methods eye doctors use to diagnose dry eye and how you can find relief if you have this condition.  

Symptoms and patient history 

An eye doctor will often begin diagnosing dry eye by asking about your symptoms and medical history. Be prepared to discuss how long you’ve had these symptoms, whether they are constant or intermittent, and any factors that may be contributing to them, such as a dry environment or excessive screen time. Your doctor may also ask about any medications you are taking that could cause dry eye as a side effect.  

Tear film evaluation 

One of the main tests for diagnosing dry eye is a tear film evaluation. Your optometrist may use special dyes or other techniques to assess the quality and quantity of your tears. This can help determine if your eyes are producing enough tears or if they are evaporating too quickly, both of which can contribute to dry eye symptoms. 

Schirmer’s test 

Another common test for diagnosing dry eye is the Schirmer’s test, which measures the amount of tears your eyes produce over a certain period. During this test, small strips of filter paper are placed under your lower eyelids to absorb tears. The results can help your doctor determine if you have decreased tear production, a common cause of dry eye. 

Meibomian gland evaluation 

Meibomian glands are tiny oil-producing glands along the edge of your eyelids that secrete an oil called meibum. This oil plays an important role in providing tear film stability and keeping your tears from evaporating too quickly. If these glands get blocked or clogged, they can’t produce enough meibum, and dry eye can occur. Your doctor may examine these glands by gently pressing on your eyelids or using imaging techniques to assess their function. 

Additional tests 

In some cases, additional tests may be needed to fully evaluate and diagnose dry eye. These tests could include measuring your tears’ osmolarity (salt concentration), assessing your tear film’s quality using imaging technology, or evaluating the surface of your eyes with specialized instruments. 

Treatment for dry eye 

If you’re diagnosed with dry eye, your eye doctor will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. This may involve using artificial tears or making changes to your environment to reduce irritation. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes such as using a humidifier at work and home or taking breaks from screens can provide relief. If your dry eye is more severe, your eye doctor may suggest prescription medications or in-office procedures to help manage symptoms and improve tear production. 

It’s important to follow up with your eye doctor regularly to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed. By staying proactive in managing dry eye, you can find relief from symptoms and improve the health of your eyes over time. 

In conclusion, diagnosing dry eye can be challenging because it’s one of many conditions that can make your eyes feel dry and uncomfortable. By consulting an eye doctor, you can find out if dry eye or another underlying condition is causing your symptoms. At EyeQ Optical, our dry eye specialist in Spokane Valley, Washington can evaluate your symptoms and provide effective and safe treatment options for dry eye. Schedule an appointment with us today! 

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