If you have symptoms of dry eye syndrome, such as a feeling of scratchiness or as though you have a foreign body in your eye, your eye doctor can perform tests to determine if it is indeed dry eye syndrome or perhaps some other eye condition.
Dry eye syndrome can’t be determined by symptoms alone because symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another and might even be affected by personality type. Some people, who have only minimal or mild dry eyes, may feel very bothered by their eyes, while others may have a significant dry eye problem and not consider the symptoms serious enough to see an eye doctor. Sometimes they don’t have any symptoms at all.
Let’s look at some tests and treatments for dry eye syndrome.
Tests for Dry Eyes
Your eye doctor may perform one or more tests for dry eye. The primary test used to diagnose dry eye syndrome is the Schirmer’s test. You will be asked to remove your eyeglasses or contacts and numbing drops will be placed into your eyes. The drops will prevent your eyes from watering in reaction to the test strips that will be used.
Once the numbing drops have taken effect, your doctor will gently pull on your bottom eyelid and place a special strip of paper underneath the lid. Both eyes are usually tested at the same time. Next, you’ll be instructed to close your eyes and keep them closed for about five minutes. Avoid squeezing or touching your eyes during this period as this may alter the test results.
After five minutes, the eye doctor will remove the strips of paper from the bottom of each eyelid and measure the amount of moisture on each strip. An alternative to the Schirmer’s test uses thread, rather than paper to measure tear production. Talk to your eye doctor about your options for testing.
Treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome
If you are found to be suffering from chronic dry eye, there are effective treatment options available. The regular use of artificial tears, along with minor behavioral modifications, can significantly reduce the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
Other times, your eye doctor may recommend prescription eye medications and in-office procedures to help your eyes produce more tears as well as to decrease eye irritation and inflammation.
Other treatments for dry eye syndrome include the following:
- Restasis may be prescribed instead of artificial tears
- Xiidra is a new prescription eye drop aimed at reducing inflammation
- Steroid eye drops are generally used short term to manage symptoms quickly
- Lacrisert is a solid, sterile, slow-release lubricant placed under the lower eyelid
- Punctal plugs are sometimes used in the treatment of dry eye syndrome to help tears stay on the surface of the eye longer
Several other treatments are available. Your eye doctor will advise you about which ones would be the best to use to control your symptoms.