Schirmer’s test is an examination, intended to demonstrate whether the eye produces enough or excessive tears. Tears protect the eyes from drying out. With the aid of paper strips, the doctor measures the tear production of the eyes.
The purpose of Schirmer’s test is to demonstrate whether the eye produces sufficient lacrimal fluid. When blinking, lacrimal fluid is evenly spread across the surface of the eye into a thin layer. This thin layer is called the tear film. In case of dry eyes, the tear film is not functioning properly. Sometimes, the cause is inadequate production of lacrimal fluid by the lacrimal gland. It's also possible that the amount of lacrimal fluid is adequate, but that the composition of the lacrimal fluid is of insufficient quality. Or that the tears don’t sufficiently reach the ocular surface due to blockages or irregularities.
For the Schirmer’s test, a paper strip is hung in the lower eyelid in order to measure the amount of lacrimal fluid. Normally, both eyes will be tested at the same time. The eyes should remain closed for 5 minutes. Then the strips are removed from the eye and the amount of of lacrimal fluid is read. Because the paper strips can irritate the eye, anesthetic eye drops are sometimes brought in before the test is performed. The examination takes about 5 minutes.