To develop a method for the evaluation of visual function in subjects with cataracts, the authors identified 20 visual activities and categorized them into five subscales (distance vision, near vision, glare disability, night driving, and daytime driving) that comprised the Activities of Daily Vision Scale (ADVS). Each subscale in the ADVS was scored between 100 (no visual difficulty) and 0 (inability to perform the activity because of visual difficulty). In 334 subjects scheduled for cataract extraction (mean age 75 +/- 9 years, 67% women), ADVS scores (mean +/- standard deviation) for each subscale ranged from 44 +/- 31 for night driving to 72 +/- 24 for near vision activities. When administered by telephone, inter-rater reliability coefficients (r) were 0.82 to 0.97 (P < 0.001) for each of the subscales, and test-retest reliability was 0.87 for the scale overall. Cronbach's coefficient alpha was very high for both the in-person (alpha = 0.94) and telephone (alpha = 0.91) formats. Criterion validity, the correlation between visual loss and ADVS score, was -0.37 (P < 0.001) when the ADVS was administered in person and -0.39 (P < 0.001) when it was administered by telephone. Content validity as assessed with factor analysis showed that 88% of the variance of the principal components weighted on one factor. The authors conclude that substantial visual disability is not captured by routine visual testing and that the ADVS is a reliable and valid measure of patient's perception of visual functional impairment.