Evaluation of the macula prior to cataract surgery

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Purpose of review

To describe recent evidence regarding methods of evaluation of retinal structure and function prior to cataract surgery.

Recent findings

Studies in patients with cataract but no clinically detectable retinal disease have shown that routine use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) prior to cataract surgery can detect subtle macular disease, which may alter the course of treatment or lead to modification of consent. The routine use of OCT has been especially useful in patients being considered for advanced-technology intraocular lenses (IOLs) as subtle macular disease can be a contraindication to the use of these lenses. The cost-effectiveness of routine use of OCT prior to cataract surgery has not been studied. Other technologies that assess retinal function rather than structure, such as microperimetry and electroretinogram (ERG) need further study to determine whether they can predict retinal potential in cataract patients.


There is growing evidence for the importance of more detailed retinal evaluation of cataract patients even with clinically normal exam. OCT has been the most established and studied method for retinal evaluation in cataract patients, but other technologies such as microperimetry and ERG are beginning to be studied.

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