Cataracts and assessment for cataract surgery – Adult

Emergency and immediate referrals

Referral to Emergency

  • Nil

Immediately contact on-call registrar to arrange an urgent (within 7 days) ophthalmology assessment for:

  • Nil
Presenting symptoms

Patient requests surgery for documented cataract with either:

  • Significant symptoms that affect the person’s quality of life and / or activities of daily living (ADLs) (e.g. light or glare sensitivity, ability to drive, recognise faces, work or self-care and increased risk of falls)
  • In the absence of significant symptoms, visual acuity 6/12 or worse in the affected eye 
Mandatory referral information (referral will be returned if this information is not included)
  • Detailed patient information including:
    • Vision limited activities
    • Duration of symptoms
    • Relevant examinations/investigations;
  • Functional impact of symptoms on daily activities including impact on work, study or carer role
  • State if patient has had previous cataract surgery
  • Statement that the patient has indicated interest in having surgical treatment
  • Most recent optometrist or private ophthalmologist report including:
    • Best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) – vision with most recent distance spectacles
    • Type of cataract
    • Refraction
    • Dilated retinal examination
  • If unable to attach reports please include relevant information/results in the referral
  • Referrer to state reason if not able to include in referral
Note: This information is required to triage accurately, within a clinically suitable timeframe 
Highly desirable referral information
  • If person is a carer, falls risk or commercial driver with specific visual acuity requirements for employment
  • Assessment of vision-related activity limitations using a validated patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) such as Catquest-9SF  
Indicative triage category
Indicative triage category
Cat 1
Appointment within 30 days
  • Documented cataract with significant impact on activities of daily living (ADL) and BCVA worse than 6/36 in each eye cataract inducing high intraocular pressure (phacomorphic/phacolytic) 
Cat 2
Appointment within 90 days
  • Documented cataract with significant impact on ADL and:
    • BCVA worse than 6/36 in one eye or
    • BCVA worse than 6/12 in each eye
Cat 3
Appointment within 365 days
  • Documented cataract with significant impact on quality of life +/- ADL and BCVA worse than 6/12 in either eye
Excluded ophthalmology services

Referral to public ophthalmology outpatient services is not routinely accepted for the following conditions:

Condition Details (where applicable)
  • Patients who do not want surgery will not be accepted
  • No visual acuity criteria
  • Asymptomatic cataract where optical correction is possible
Useful Information for referring practitioners

More information