Frequency of dry eye diagnostic test procedures used in various modes of ophthalmic practice

Cornea. 2000 Jul;19(4):477-82. doi: 10.1097/00003226-200007000-00015.


Purpose: There are many suggested dry eye diagnostic test batteries in the literature. However, clinicians use a wide variety of dry eye diagnostic tests in clinical practice due to a number of factors, including time constraints. In addition, there has been no systematic description of the standard of care in diagnosing dry eye in the literature. The purpose of this study is to determine the type and frequency of dry eye diagnostic tests used in various modes of ophthalmic practice across a spectrum of dry eye severity.

Methods: A total of 467 patient charts (patients with a previous dry eye diagnosis) were reviewed retrospectively to determine diagnostic test frequency. In reviewing patient charts, the following tests were identified as performed or not performed: symptom assessment, fluorescein staining, tear break-up time (TBUT), Schirmer test, rose bengal staining, and "tear assessment" (including quantity and quality of the tear meniscus).

Results: Dry eye diagnostic tests were used in the following frequencies across all modes of practice: symptom assessment (82.8%), fluorescein staining (55.5%), TBUT (40.7%), tear assessment (22.2%), Schirmer test (8.5%), and rose bengal staining (4.9%). When the clinics are pooled, two test procedures were used with the highest frequency (38.9%). The most commonly performed two-test procedure combination was a symptom assessment combined with fluorescein staining of the cornea (43.7%).

Conclusions: Symptom assessment plays a large role in the diagnosis of dry eye. The current clinical standard of care for dry eye diagnosis includes the performance of at least one test procedure in addition to a symptom assessment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Fluorescein / administration & dosage
  • Fluorescent Dyes / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Ophthalmology / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rose Bengal / administration & dosage
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surface Properties
  • Tears / physiology


  • Contrast Media
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Rose Bengal
  • Fluorescein