Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Tear or Lacrimation Testing

$

Cost

The lacrimal glands are responsible for producing tears that clean and lubricate the eyes. If tear production is decreased or inhibited, the eye can become irritated, scratchy, and sensitive to light. Vision may also be affected. The Schirmer tear or lacrimation test is used for eyes with chronic ulcers and those in which the cornea appears dry on examination.

A vet inserts the tear test strip (a small thin rectangular paper strip) under the lower eyelid. The strip is removed after one minute and the length of the moist end is measured. Strips are frequently saturated in horses after one minute. A very short length of saturation (less than 10 mm of wetting per minute) are diagnostic for tear deficiency.

Benefits

Measures tear production. Helps determine whether administration of artificial tears is necessary.

Limitations

Says nothing about the underlying cause of lost or decreased tear production.

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QUESTIONS TO ASK MY VET

  • How is the lack of tear production related to the problems my horse is having?
  • Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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