Posted by: Associates in Ophthalmology (NJ) in Eye Health

Dry eye has many common symptoms including itching, redness, and grittiness. However, many eye problems share similar symptoms, so to truly get to the bottom of your issue, you need to get a diagnosis. 

There are many methods of testing that your eye doctor at Associates in Ophthalmology may use to test for dry eye and determine what is causing your symptoms. Keep reading to learn what tests eye doctors perform to test for dry eye!

What is Tear Film?

Tears are made up of more than just water. A healthy tear has three different layers. 

At the bottom of the tear is the mucin layer. This is made up of mucous and helps the tear spread over and stick to the eye. 

It nourishes the cornea and provides a protective barrier. Water makes up the middle aqueous layer. 

This water hydrates the eye and delivers proteins that the eye needs. The outer layer is a protective coating of lipids.

These lipids are the oil that protects the tear itself. Without this layer, the tear drains too fast or evaporates before it can refresh the eye. 

Dry eye is typically caused by either a lack of tears or tears that are produced with a weak outer layer. If your eyes are not producing enough tears, then they are simply not getting enough nutrition. 

If the glands that produce the oily layers are blocked, then the tears are not going to be able to survive long enough. Eyes may not produce enough tears due to age, as a side effect of certain medications or eye surgery, or as a symptom of another disease. 

A weak lipid layer of tear film is often caused by a blockage in the oil-producing glands. This can be from chronic inflammation or a buildup of waxy deposits.       

What Kinds of Tests Can Diagnose Dry Eye?

Getting to the bottom of chronic dry eye takes some trial and error. That’s why Associates in Ophthalmology in Livingston, NJ offers several different testing options. 

These tests are designed to find the root cause of your dry eye so the proper treatment can be prescribed. The Schirmer’s Test uses special strips of paper to determine tear production. 

After you have kept your eyes closed gently for five minutes, the papers are inserted into the lower eyelid of each eye. After just fifteen seconds, your eye doctor can read the results. 

Epithelial staining is a test that uses eye drops to look for damage to the cornea. Corneal damage can happen as a result of dry eye that has gone untreated for too long. 

The drops change color in the eye, allowing fast and accurate diagnoses.

Your eye doctor can also manually check the oil-producing glands. 

By pressing on the glands, the eye doctor can check to see if they are secreting normally. TearLab is an innovative way to get an in-depth look at your tear health. 

Your eye doctor uses a special instrument to gather sample tears from your eyes. This instrument can detect the salt level in your eyes. 

This gives the eye doctor an accurate view of the overall health of your tear film. 

Finding out what is causing your dry eye is the first step to fixing the problem. 

Are you experiencing symptoms of dry eyes? Schedule an appointment at Associates in Ophthalmology in Livingston, NJ, today!