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The only way to diagnose a cataract with with an eye examination. To detect a cataract, an ophthalmologist or optometrist examines the lens. Other tests evaluate the structure and overall health of the eye. A comprehensive eye examination for cataracts usually includes:

  • Visual acuity test—This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances. This may include a test of your vision under conditions of low contrast and/or glare.
  • Slit lamp exam—This is an examination of the eye using a specialized microscope that magnifies the eye.
  • Tonometry—This is a standard test to measure fluid pressure inside the eye (increased pressure may be a sign of glaucoma).
  • Dilated eye exam—The doctor gives you special eye drops to widen your pupil, which allows better examination of the lens and the structures of the back of the eye. This allows your doctor to examine the lens in more detail to detect a cataract.

References:

Cataract. American Optometric Association website. Available at: http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/cataract?sso=y. Accessed November 21, 2013.

Cataracts in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116240/Cataracts-in-adults. Updated August 31, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.

Facts about cataract. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts. Updated September 2009. Accessed November 21, 2013.

What are cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Smart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts/index.cfm. Accessed November 21, 2013.

What is a cataract? NIH Senior Health website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/cataract/whatisacataract/01.html. Accessed November 21, 2013.



Last reviewed December 2015 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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