The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Abstract: What the diagnostic tests don't tell us

Whoops, missed this one from back in June.

Nothing particularly new here - poor correlation of severity of signs & symptoms of dry eye - but hopefully, the more frequently this gets written up, the more motivation there will be to find some better solutions for the lack of correlation.

Of note however is the "median of 6 tests used in the initial examination" of dry eye patients by the participants in this study. I wonder how many DEZ members had that many tests administered by any of their first five doctors. We as patients need to have higher expectations of our eye doctors and be educated before we walk through that door about the diagnostic procedures that could/should be administered.

Current patterns in the use of diagnostic tests in dry eye evaluation.
Cornea. 2008 Jul;27(6):656-62.
Nichols KK, Baldwin EK.

PURPOSE: To clarify the roles of objective signs and subjective symptoms in the diagnosis and management of dry eye by describing their use by a group of expert practitioners. Dry eye signs and symptoms do not always correlate well, and there is currently some controversy over the ideal roles of signs and symptoms and their actual use in clinical practice. METHODS: A balanced panel of 16 participants in a scientific roundtable on dry eye reviewed 4 patient case studies and completed surveys ranking common diagnostic procedures assessing symptoms and signs by the order in which they would be used. RESULTS: Symptom assessment was the predominant diagnostic method. The objective tests most commonly used during the initial examination were tear breakup time (93%), corneal staining (85%), tear film assessment (76%), conjunctival staining (74%), and the Schirmer test (54%). Most panelists used multiple tests, with a median of 6 tests used in the initial examination. CONCLUSIONS: Subjective symptoms and objective signs are both important in the diagnosis and management of dry eye, with the patient's symptoms and history playing a critical role. Most clinicians use objective signs in dry eye management. However, currently available diagnostic tests do not correlate reliably with symptom severity. Research aimed at developing accurate, objective, responsive measures of dry eye severity is needed.