Cataract surgery is one of the most frequent surgical procedures experienced by seniors. In Canada, substantial waiting lists for cataract surgery are common. This study systematically studied anxiety among older persons who were waiting for cataract surgery, and factors that may underlie anxiety in this population. Factors examined in relation to anxiety were age, sex, education, medical and ocular problems, previous cataract surgery, concern about wait, previous decisions to delay surgery, length of wait, visual functioning, visual acuity, worry about health, and coping strategies. A random sample (n = 50) of patients on a waiting list for cataract surgery took part in telephone interviews. Patients' ophthalmologists provided preoperative visual acuity. Over one-third of patients reported anxiety within the range reported for panic disorder patients and Beck Anxiety Inventory scores were well above reported norms for seniors. Increased anxiety was found among those with a general tendency to worry about their health, poorer visual functioning, and greater use of palliative coping strategies. The clinical implications of the findings are discussed. The results highlight the importance of assessing anxiety while elderly patients wait for surgery, designing interventions, and providing assistance to those patients found to have elevated levels of anxiety.