This prospective study evaluates the impact of cataract surgery on subjects’ health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measured with a 15-dimension generic instrument, the 15D. The HRQoL of cataract subjects was compared with that of an age- and gender-standardised sample of the general population in Finland. A total of 152 subjects with a first-eye cataract surgery completed the 15D questionnaire both before and 12 months after cataract surgery. When compared with the general population, cataract subjects had much lower HRQoL at baseline (mean difference 0.037 (95% CI: 0.020, 0.054), p<0.001). At 12 months after cataract surgery, the overall utility index improved from the mean of 0.837 to 0.855 (mean difference 0.018 (95% CI: 0.007, 0.029), p=0.002). Significant improvement was observed on the following five dimensions: seeing, moving, hearing, usual activities and discomfort / symptoms in the 15D questionnaire. The data indicates that at 12 months after first-eye cataract surgery, patients’ HRQoL is slightly better than that before surgery. However, patients’ postoperative HRQoL may remain lower than that of an age-and gender-standardised control population.