Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic staff
To determine whether you have a cataract, your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms, and perform an eye examination. Your doctor may conduct several tests, including:
Asking you to read an eye chart (visual acuity test). A visual acuity test uses an eye chart to measure how well you can read a series of letters. Your eyes are tested one at a time, while the other eye is covered.
Using a chart or a viewing device with progressively smaller letters, your eye doctor determines if you have 20/20 vision or if your vision shows signs of impairment.
Using a light and magnification to examine your eye (slit-lamp examination). A slit lamp allows your eye doctor to see the structures at the front of your eye under magnification.
The microscope is called a slit lamp because it uses an intense line of light, a slit, to illuminate your cornea, iris, lens, and the space between your iris and cornea. The slit allows your doctor to view these structures in small sections, which makes it easier to detect any tiny abnormalities.
Dilating your eyes (retinal examination). To prepare for a retinal examination, your eye doctor puts dilating drops in your eyes to open your pupils wide. This makes it easier to examine the back of your eyes (retina).
Using a slit lamp or a special device called an ophthalmoscope, your eye doctor can examine your lens for signs of a cataract.
- Facts about cataract. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts.asp. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Cataract. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/cataract.xml. Accessed May 3, 2013.
- What are cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts.cfm. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Cataract symptoms. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts-symptoms.cfm. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Cataract causes. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts-cause.cfm. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Yanoff M, ed., et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Edinburgh, U.K.: Mosby Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-04332-8..00073-1--s0180&isbn=978-0-323-04332-8&sid=1438275868&uniqId=410656703-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-04332-8..00073-1--s0180. Accessed May 3, 2013.
- Cataract in the adult eye PPP. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/ce/practiceguidelines/ppp_content.aspx?cid=a80a87ce-9042-4677-85d7-4b876deed276. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Jacobs DS. Cataract in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 3, 2013.
- Who is at risk for cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts-risk.cfm. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Cataract surgery. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataract-surgery.cfm. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Cataract diagnosis. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts-diagnosis.cfm. Accessed May 2, 2013.
- Knoop KJ. Slit lamp examination. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 7, 2013.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1793-8..00066-2--s0050&isbn=978-1-4377-1793-8&sid=1438276431&uniqId=410656703-5#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1793-8..00066-2--s0055. Accessed May 3, 2013.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 11, 2013.
- Mares JA, et al. Healthy diets and the subsequent prevalence of nuclear cataract in women. Archives of Ophthalmology. 2010;128:738.