Slit-lamp exam

Slit-lamp exam
Your ophthalmologist will closely examine the eye’s cornea (see How the Eye Sees video above), iris, lens and the space between the iris and cornea. With this special microscope, the doctor is able to examine your eye in small, detailed sections, making it easier to spot abnormalities.

Retinal exam
When your eye is dilated, the pupils are wide open so the doctor can more clearly see the back of the eye. Using the slit lamp and/or an instrument called an ophthalmoscope, the doctor looks for signs of cataract. Your Eye M.D. will also look for signs of glaucoma and other potential problems with the retina and optic nerve.

Refraction and visual acuity test
This test assesses the sharpness and clarity of your vision. Each eye is tested individually for the ability to see letters of varying sizes.

Once I have a cataract diagnosis, what should I do?

Ophthalmoscope exam

  • Have an eye exam every year if you're older than 65, or every two years if younger.
  • Protect your eyes from UV light by wearing sunglasses that block at least 99 percent UV and a hat.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking is a key risk factor for cataracts.
  • Use brighter lights for reading and other activities; a magnifying glass may be useful, too.
  • Limit driving at night once night vision, halos or glare become problems.
  • Take care of any other health problems, especially diabetes.
  • Get the right eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct your vision; when it becomes too difficult to complete your regular activities, consider cataract surgery.
  • To make an informed decision about cataract surgery, thoroughly discuss with your ophthalmologist the surgical procedure, preparation for and recovery after surgery, benefits and possible complications of cataract surgery, cataract surgery costs, and other important information.
  • Do not use eyedrops or other treatments that claim to dissolve or remove cataracts. There is no proven way to dissolve cataracts with eyedrops. Surgery is the only way to remove cataracts.

Written by
Reviewed by Dr. Elena Jiménez on Feb. 1, 2014

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