Maple Eye and Laser Center
How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed? | White Plains and Manhattan, NY

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

dry eye treatment

Dry eye occurs when the eyes produce inadequate tears to remain moist. It also occurs due to poor-quality tears. As a result, your eyes can feel scratchy, dry, and uncomfortable. You may have to visit your doctor at Maple Eye and Laser Center to ensure you get effective treatment to relieve your symptoms and avoid vision problems. Read on to learn how dry eye gets diagnosed.

Slit Lamp Test

Your eye doctor will see if your eyes make adequate tears by using a microscope called a slit lamp. They will begin by putting a drop into your eye to see the tears easier. The eye doctor will then shine the thin light into your eye to look at them and the eyelids using a microscope.

Schirmer’s Test

Your eye doctor will use this test as one of the most common and basic tests for dry eyes. It will help determine if your eyes can produce adequate tears to remain moist. They will place a medical paper strip on your lower eyelids. You will then close your eyes to allow the strip to absorb your tears. It will indicate how much water volume is in your tear film.

Your doctor will examine the strip after five minutes. They will check how far your tears will travel along the paper. Less than 15 mm of travel means you have dry eyes.


Chronic dry eyes often occur due to meibomian gland dysfunction. Hence, diagnosing your meibomian glands is essential. A LipiScan® device can help determine if you have atrophied, dilated, blocked, or healthy meibomian glands. It will provide high-resolution images of your lower and upper meibomian glands.

Phenol Red Thread Test

Your eye doctor will use this test to determine if the aqueous layer has diminished by evaluating the volume of your overall tears. A diminished aqueous layer causes dry eyes by reducing the spread of tears on your eye surface.

During this test, your eye doctor will use a thin red string and drape it over your eyes. They will then observe how many tears your eyes can produce in seconds. They will then compare each eye and its results.


A TearLab® test assesses the saltiness and osmolarity of your tears. A stable and low osmolarity indicates that your eyes are moist and healthy. A balance in the composition of oil, water, and salt makes healthy tears. High osmolarity or low tear quantity and quality can damage your eye surface. As a result, you experience dry eye syndrome.

Your eye doctor will conduct the test by collecting your small tear sample. They will then use a TearLab test to assess the makeup and osmolarity of your tears to get quantitative information.

Tear Breakup Time (TBUT)

Your eye doctor can use this test to determine the time it takes your tears to evaporate. Dry eyes result when tears evaporate quickly. Your eyes lack adequate lubrication. During this test, your eye doctor will use a sterile blotting paper with fluorescein orange dye to touch your eye gently. The pigment will gently coat and spread on the tear film that covers your cornea every time you blink.

Your eye doctor will make your tears glow by using a blue light. As a result, they will track your tear evaporation rate. They will also highlight corneal damage or any issues that could cause your eyes to dry.

​​​​​​​For more about diagnosing dry eyes, visit Maple Eye and Laser Center at our office in White Plains or Manhattan, New York. Call 914-948-5157 to book an appointment today.