When you are experiencing chronic signs and symptoms of dry eye disease, there's really a lot to it. In some practices, an eye doctor examines the health of the cornea and will use a dye test to see if the cornea is dry. With the advanced in eye care technology & diagnostics, dry eye disease testing has advanced tremendously, and our office is at the forefront of it.
Because dry eye disease is so complex & multifactorial, it can NOT be properly evaluated during a routine yearly eye exam for glasses or contact lenses, or if you're going in for eye surgery.
Honestly, if you are going in for your routine eye care based on your yearly or your six-month appointments, most busy practices don't allow for more time to do an additional dry eye evaluation.
You will pretty much stick to the script of what you came in for or have you come back for a separate dry eye exam.
When I perform a complete dry eye evaluation, I start with my speed questionnaire, and that's just assessing what is bothering you and how bad your symptoms are bothering you.
Then, I also perform two non-invasive lab tests of your tears. What I'm looking for are markers of inflammation and increased tear osmolarity readings. Both of those are very indicative of whether you need a pharmaceutical prescription or not.
Our testing is still not done. The exam follows up with an evaluation of your eyes under a microscope. This helps me assess where I need to focus once I put you on the Oculus Keratograph.
The Oculus Keratograph is an amazing piece of technology that documents each eye with 21 images of what is specifically going on with your dry eye disease, such as aqueous deficiency, lipid layer health, lid function, presence of blepharitis, corneal inflammation, and most importantly the function of your meibomian glands - are they intact, have they atrophied, and are they putting out oil? Oil is the most important top layer of our tears and a common cause of dry eye disease.
The best thing about my workup is that patients can see what I see. I'm not just explaining to them what their tears are or are not doing, and it's not based on a hunch or guesswork. I can actually turn my monitor around, and allow the patient to see what their eyes look like, what is and is not functioning, or what is contributing to their dry eye signs and symptoms.
It's a beautiful thing. I'm a very visual person. I like visuals, so I use lots of them once a diagnosis is made, be it mild, moderate, or severe dry eye disease, and I give my patients the option to proceed or have treatments based on what we see and what can be fixed.
Our dry eye evaluation is far more thorough than a regular dry eye exam, and in some cases, our dry eye evaluation is more thorough than a typical eye care provider's dry eye exam because we specialize solely in this area.