Eye Health

Updated 15 February 2016

Diagnosing cataracts

An ophthalmologist will perform an eye examination to determine whether or not cataracts are present.

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Diagnosis of cataracts is primarily based on medical history and eye examination. Vision problems are compared with results of an eye examination and visual acuity tests to:

  • Confirm presence of cataracts
  • Rule out other conditions that may cause vision loss

The doctor can see the abnormal lens with a hand-held viewing instrument (ophthalmoscope). The usual test for visual acuity, the letter eye chart, may not, however, reflect the true nature of visual loss. Other tests, which measure glare sensitivity, contrast sensitivity, night vision, colour vision, and side or central vision, can help with the diagnosis.

Should your doctor find a cataract, he or she can monitor it and advise you on future treatment.

During the diagnostic examination, an ophthalmologist will measure the shape, size and general health of the eye to determine whether a lens implant will be effective.  

Infants are checked for cataracts at birth and during routine visits to a health professional, or parents may detect cataracts in an infant by noticing a white pupil or poor vision in their child.

If cataracts are suspected in an infant or a child, he or she should immediately be referred to an ophthalmologist for evaluation and treatment.

Read more:

Symptoms of cataracts

Treating cataracts

Preventing cataracts

 

Ask the Expert

Optometrist

Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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