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Screening for Cataracts

The content below is part of the “Health Library” and is not indicative of services available at the facility.

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually given to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

Ask your doctor for guidelines specific to your individual situation. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following general screening guidelines for healthy adults with no risk factors for eye disease:

  • At least once between age 20-29
  • At least twice between age 30-39
  • Age 40-64: every 2-4 years
  • Age 65 and older: every 1-2 years

You should be screened more often, as directed by your doctor, or if you:

  • Have risk factors for cataracts, glaucoma, or other eye diseases
  • Have a personal or family history of eye disease
  • Have had a serious eye injury in the past
  • Had eye surgery in the past
  • Are taking a corticosteroid medications
  • Have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic illness

Note: If you currently have eye symptoms, you should call your doctor for an evaluation. If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

Screening Tests

A comprehensive eye examination screens for cataracts. This examination may include:

  • Visual acuity test—This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
  • Dilated eye exam—You will be given special eye drops to widen your pupil and allows better examination of the lens and the structures of the back of the eye.
  • Tonometry—This is a standard test to measure fluid pressure inside the eye (increased pressure may be a sign of glaucoma).
  • Slit lamp exam—This is an examination of the eye using a specialized microscope that magnifies the eye.

Revision Information

  • Cataracts in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116240/Cataracts-in-adults. Updated November 28, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2017.

  • Facts about cataract. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract%5Ffacts. Updated September 2015. Accessed May 10, 2017.

  • Get Screened at 40. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/screening. Updated June 8, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2017.

  • Vision screening recommendations for adults over 60. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/seniors-screening. Updated March 3, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2017.

  • Vision screening recommendations for adults under 40. American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/young-adults-screening. Updated July 17, 2012. Accessed May 10, 2017.

  • What is a cataract? NIH Senior Health website. Available at: https://nihseniorhealth.gov/cataract/whatisacataract/01.html. Updated January 2013. Accessed May 10, 2017.