Clinically objective measures such as visual acuity or visual field provide an assessment of a patient's visual status. However such measures may not reflect the degree of visual impairment the patient experiences in his or her daily activities. Visual impairment has been shown to have negative effects on health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) and a significant impact on daily functioning, including social activities. As such, there is a growing recognition of the importance of patient-reported outcomes of visual functioning. This review examines the development and psychometric properties of 22 vision-specific instruments assessing visual functioning and/or the impact of visual impairment on HR-QOL or daily activities. Issues relevant to assessing vision-specific subjective outcomes are reviewed, with specific application of the reviewed instruments. Three instruments, the Activities of Daily Vision Scale, National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire, and Visual Function Index have been well validated and widely used, but others also show promise. To fully capture the benefits of a new ophthalmology treatment (or new treatment for eye disease) a valid and reliable visual instrument, in which the psychometric performance has been demonstrated in the particular ocular condition being treated, should be utilised.