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Diagnosis of Cataracts

by Rick Alan

Although you might think you have a cataract, the only way to know for sure is to have an eye examination. To detect a cataract, an ophthalmologist or optometrist examines the lens and may do other tests to learn more about the structure and health of your eye. A comprehensive eye examination for cataracts usually includes:

  • Visual acuity test - an eye chart test that measures how well you see at various distances
  • Slit lamp exam - Examination of the eye using a specialized microscope that magnifies the eye.
  • Tonometry - 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.


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 17th edition. Simon and Schuster, Inc.;2000.

National Eye Institute

Last reviewed October 2004 by Kimberly Rask, MD, PhD

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