Data from a prospective study of quality of life after cataract extraction with intraocular lens implantation were used to examine associations between patient factors and the timing of cataract extraction. The 495 patients were drawn from 76 ophthalmologists' offices in three cities. Patients were categorized as waiting three months or less or four months or more to schedule their operations after their physicians' recommendations. Patients who delayed scheduling their operations were more likely to be younger, have higher incomes, be working full-time, have higher life satisfaction, have lower levels of depression and higher levels of vigor, have had a less than perfect previous operation, have lower scores for mid-range vision and higher scores for cataract symptoms, be fearful of nighttime driving, and be heavy drinkers. Conversely, patients who delayed their operations were less likely to be covered by Medicare and to expect excellent postoperative vision and a short recovery time. A discriminant analysis correctly classified 68.9% of the patients according to timing group.