Schirmer test

Last reviewed 01/2018

This measures the rate of aqueous tear formation by the lacrimal gland during a fixed time period.

  • performed by instilling a topical anaesthetic and then absorbent paper strips are placed with one end in the inferior cul-de-sac
  • patient’s eyes are closed and the length of paper wetted in 5 minutes measured
  • value of less than 6 mm of strip wetting in 5 minutes is accepted as diagnostic marker for aqueous tear deficiency
  • Schirmer II test measures tear of lacrimal gland by stimulation of lacrimal relex arc while Schirmer I test (without use of a topical anaesthetic) measures both basic and relex tearing (1)