Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in Saudi Arabia. The author studied 1383 patients who had undergone cataract extraction (total of 1520 procedures) from October 1985 to March 1986 at the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. All patients were observed for at least two months. Of 1520 eyes 555 (37%) achieved a visual acuity of 20/40 or better, 309 (20%) a visual acuity of 20/50-20/60 after surgery, and 656 (43%) eyes a visual acuity of 20/70 or less. The number of eyes that had intraoperative complications was 176 (12%). The number of eyes that had postoperative complications was 539 (35%). Some eyes had more than one complication. The main factors responsible for failure to achieve visual acuity of 20/40 or better were: (1) error of refraction in 492 (32%) eyes; (2) pre-existing corneal scarring and opacity in 211 (14%) eyes; (3) climatic droplet keratopathy in 134 (9%); and (4) presumed visual loss due to glaucoma in 134 (9%) eyes.