What Is a Schirmer’s Test?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on October 28, 2021

About 1 in 7 people over age 65 have regular symptoms of dry eye.

A Schirmer’s test is used to measure the eye’s tear production in order to diagnose eye conditions such as dry eye and inflammation of the eye’s surface. ‌Dry eye puts you at risk for infection. 

How Is the Schirmer’s Test Done?

Schirmer testing will be done for both your eyes. Test strips that are labeled “L” and “R” (for right and left) are folded and placed in each eye from the inner corner where the tear duct is to the bottom edge of the upper eyelid. Once both strips are in place, you will be asked to close your eyelids for five minutes. Finally, you’ll open both eyes so the strips can be removed. The Schirmer test score is determined by the length of the moistened area of each strip. It will be either normal or indicate dry eye:

Normal test results. If the length of the test strip is moistened more than 10 mm in five minutes, your tear production is considered normal and functioning. 

Tear deficiency results. If you get a score of less than 5 mm in five minutes, your tear production is considered deficient. 

Show Sources


American Optometric Association: “Dry eye.”

Community Eye Health Journal: “Schirmer’s test.”

StatPearls: “Schirmer Test.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info