This study evaluated vision immediately after surgery in 56 consecutive patients (31 who had topical anesthesia and 25 who had retrobulbar anesthesia) for cataract extraction by phacoemulsification and intraocular lens implantation. An unbiased, trained nurse measured uncorrected and best corrected visual acuities one hour, one day, and one week after surgery. One hour after surgery, patients in the topical anesthesia group had significantly better visual acuity than those in the retrobulbar anesthesia group. One day and one week after surgery there was no difference between the groups in visual acuity. In the topical anesthesia patients, there were no complications. In the retrobulbar anesthesia patients, ptosis occurred in 19 patients at one hour, in 4 patients at one day, and in 1 patient after one week; diplopia occurred in 13 patients at one hour.