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Cataracts start off small and worsen over time, so it’s important to understand how developed your cataract is in order to treat symptoms early. With a short yet comprehensive evaluation, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will be able to give you an accurate cataract diagnosis and let you know if you need surgery and if you’re a good candidate for it – giving you the opportunity to enjoy a clearer, brighter life beyond cataracts.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

To determine if you have a cataract, your doctor will give you a full examination, which includes the following:

Overview of health & medication history

  • You and your immediate family’s overall health
  • What medications you’re taking, including prescription and over-the-counter
  • Whether you’re at a higher risk for cataracts because of high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and overexposure to the sun

Overview of your vision history

  • If you or an immediate family member has any eye diseases, such as glaucoma
  • Any past eye treatments, including surgeries
  • Whether or not you’ve had any trauma to your eyes, such as eye-related injuries and burns
  • When you were last evaluated by an eye doctor

Common eye tests

  • Visual Acuity Test: Measures your quality of vision at certain distances
  • Slit-Lamp Examination: Helps to determine if there are abnormalities in the cornea, iris, or lens that may indicate the presence or severity of a cataract
  • Tonometry: Measures the pressure in the eye, known as the intraocular pressure (IOP) 

What questions should I be prepared to answer? 

As we noted above, you and your doctor will discuss your health and vision history during your appointment, which will help your doctor give you an official cataract diagnosis and surgery recommendation. By being ready to answer some of the questions below, it will allow for more time later to address any other questions or concerns you may have.

Here are some specific questions your doctor may ask to help with cataract diagnosis:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Do you have your symptoms all the time or do they come and go?
  • Do you experience vision problems in bright light?
  • Are you experiencing worsening vision in low light?
  • Have your symptoms gotten worse?
  • Do your vision problems make it difficult for you to drive?
  • Do your vision problems make it difficult to read?
  • Do your vision problems make it difficult to do your job?
  • Have you ever had an eye injury or eye surgery?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with an eye problem, such as inflammation of your iris (iritis)?
  • Have you ever received radiation therapy to your head or neck?