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.
A comprehensive eye examination screens for cataracts. This examination should include:
- Visual acuity test—This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
- Slit lamp exam—This examination of the eye uses a specialized microscope that magnifies the eye.
- Tonometry—This standard test measures fluid pressure inside the eye; increased pressure may be a sign of glaucoma
- 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.
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 to 4 years
- Age 65 and older: every 1 to 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 medication
- Have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic illness
Note: If you currently have eye symptoms, you should call your doctor for an evaluation. In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Cataract. American Optometric Association website. Available at: http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/cataract. Accessed November 21, 2013.
Facts about cataract. National Eye Institute. Available at:
http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts.asp. Updated September 2009. Accessed November 21, 2013.
What are cataracts? American Academy of Ophthalmology EyeSmart website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/cataracts.cfm. Accessed November 21, 2013.
What is a cataract? NIH Senior Health website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/cataract/whatisacataract/01.html. Accessed November 21, 2013.
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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