Cataract Pamphlets: What You Should Know

The National Eye Institute is one of the world’s leading authorities in ophthalmic treatment and technology. As a non-biased education source, they produce a plethora of pamphlets and flyers for physicians to hand out to patients about the care of their eyes. The NEI’s pamphlet on cataracts, Cataract: What You Should Know, is a patient hand out that describes what cataracts are, how to treat them and how to talk to a doctor about them. To see exactly how well this pamphlet is, I stacked it up against the Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM) critique, ranking several variable as either superior, adequate or not suitable for patient readability.

Firstly, the title of the pamphlet describes exactly what the reader is to expect from it—what you should know about cataracts. Because of this, the literature starts strong with a “superior” ranking for purpose. The table of contents is simply designed with single word or short phrase titles that direct patients to exactly where they need to go: About Cataracts, Detection, Treatment, What You Can Do. Again, according to the Suitability Assessment, “superior”.

Although the topics individually do not conclude with a summary, the final section of the guide summarizes all of the previous contents and gives patients a list of topics to talk to their ophthalmologists about. The conversation style and voice in which the subject matter is written is clear and concise for patients regardless of their education level and, according to the Fry Readability Formula, the pamphlet is written at a 6th grade level. In my opinion, this is solely because the words “cataract” and “retina” are three syllables each (if they were two syllables instead, the grade level would drop to fifth).

So far, every component of the SAM outline is “superior”. Readers are given explanations of every word that a person with no knowledge of the eye would could possibly confuse and there are clear road signs at every corner. The pamphlet’s design, from the cover to the typography and graphics are clean and easy to understand. Everything including the diagrams are typed in size 14 font (which is a great call for patients with cataracts who are probably also presbyopic) and they layout helps guide the patient through the literature.

The guide sets out to answer questions for cataract patients and I feel it does just that. The images used include a diverse group of people from many races and the verbiage is inclusive to all. This pamphlet, in every aspect, obtained a “superior” ranking and is a fantastic source for offices to provide to their patients. Written in understandable language with clean design and typeset, this booklet is an excellent example of how to create patient friendly literature. If your office does not print its own patient handout material, I would highly recommend this and other literature produced by the NEI.

National Eye Institute. (2015, September). Cataract: What you should know. US Department of Health and Social Services. Retrieved from

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