Tests and Diagnosis for Cataracts

Tests and Diagnosis for Cataracts

Vision problems should be taken seriously. If you have been experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of cataracts like clouding of the lens, it is important to consult an ophthalmologist for a diagnosis soon because, in some cases, early detection of a cataract may enable you to make certain lifestyle changes that can slow its progress. To determine if your vision impairment is, indeed, a cataract, the physician may use one or more of the following tests.

Tests that May Be Used to Determine the Presence of a Cataract

  • Tonometry – This test is used to measure intraocular pressure; patients are sometimes given numbing drops for this procedure. Types of tonometry procedures include non-contact tonometry (a “puff” of air), applanation tonometry, electronic tonometry, and indentation tonometry.  Applanation tonometry is considered to be one of the most accurate methods for measuring the pressure inside a patient’s eye.
  • Visual Acuity Test – Also known as the “eye chart,” this test uses letters of different sizes to gauge the patient’s ability to see at a range of distances. Cataract surgery may be considered a viable option if the patient’s vision is determined to be worse than 20/40.
  • Contrast Sensitivity – This test measures a person’s ability to see different levels of contrast.  Unlike the “eye chart,” which uses black letters on white paper (little reflection and nearly 100% contrast), the contrast sensitivity test rates the patient’s ability to see borders and edges in a range of brightness conditions, which is believed to be a more accurate measure of real-life vision ability. This test uses an instrument called the Pelli-Robson test, which – like the “eye chart” – uses letters. However, all of the letters are the same size; the difference is that they are presented in various shades of gray.
  • Glare Disability Test – Using an instrument called a Brightness Acuity Tester, the ophthalmologist determines the patient’s ability to see in different conditions that could cause glare: bright overhead lighting, sunlight, etc. Glare is a common issue among patients with cataracts.
  • Dilation Exam – For this test, the doctor will first expand the patient’s pupils with drops. The physician then looks at the patient’s optic nerve, retina, and other areas for indications that damage or problems may be present.

If a cataract is detected during your exam, your health care provider will discuss options for treatment, which include an intraocular lens.

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