Help and frequently asked questions

How is dry eye diagnosed?


Your local optometrist should be able to diagnose dry eye by taking a thorough case history and learning about your symptoms. Most people will be asked if they have any underlying conditions or are taking medications. There are a number of autoimmune diseases that can cause dry eye. Oral contraceptives and antidepressants may also be common causes of dry eye. Your lifestyle can be a factor, so there is a chance you will be asked whether you have recently spent a lot of time in hot, dry climates or if you work on a computer all day.

After examining your eye, a diagnosis of dry eye should be possible when considered alongside your symptoms. The kind of treatment you receive will often depend on the underlying reason for your dry eye, although artificial tears are commonly prescribed.

An eye examination was inconclusive for dry eye. What next?

An eye examination and case history might not be enough to confirm a dry eye diagnosis. In this case, there are several tests that can be carried out to measure your tear quantity and quality.

  • Fluorescein dye test: A yellow-orange dye is applied to your eye, making it easier for an optometrist to see tears more clearly. You will be asked to blink a few times and then leave your eyes open without blinking for as long as possible.Your optometrist will then time how long it takes for a dry patch in the dye to develop.
  • Lissamine green test: A green dye is dropped onto your eye using a paper strip. This will highlight surface damage to the eye, which could indicate dry eye.Schirmer's test: Strips of blotting paper are attached to your lower eyelid and left in place for around five minutes. The wetness of the paper will determine whether you are having problems producing tears.