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Diagnosis of Cataracts

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—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.

Revision Information

  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research website. Available at:

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

  • National Eye Institute website. Available at:

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.