The relationship between health-related quality of life (HQL) measures and patient preference for their health status was studied. Study subjects consisted of 132 patients at four hospitals who were scheduled for cataract surgery. Generic and disease-specific health status measures were determined in study subjects. The Medical Outcomes Study Short-form 36 (SF-36) item health status instrument was used to measure generic health status and the Visual Function 14 (VF-14) item visual health status instrument was used as the disease-specific health measure. Preference for general health and visual health was measured by assessing utilities assigned by patients to certain health states. Utilities assigned for general health were correlated with all categories of the SF-36 and VF-14 scores. Utilities assigned for visual health were correlated with four categories of the SF-36 (role limitation due to emotional health, general health, physical functioning, and vitality) and VF-14 scores. Utilities assigned for visual health were more strongly correlated with VF-14 scores than generic measures of health. Verbal ratings for visual health were correlated with Snellen visual acuity (SVA) (r = 0.20), utilities assigned for visual health (r = 0.58), VF-14 scores (r = 0.74), all categories of the SF-36 (r values ranging from 0.21 to 0.28), utilities assigned for general health (r = 0.19), and verbal ratings for general health (r = 0.29). Utility measures and verbal ratings for general and visual health were shown to be appropriate HQL measures. These measures were strongly correlated with other established generic and disease-specific health measures and should be included in the array of health status measures.