The objective of this study was to determine whether rates of eye disease among the elderly are higher for residents of nursing homes than for persons who reside elsewhere. Articles reporting the prevalence of eye disease in geriatric populations (classified as nursing home or non-nursing home) were identified through a Medline search and a search of articles' bibliographies. Identified articles were reviewed, and the relevant data compared with prevalence rates obtained from 738 residents of two nursing homes in New York City. Each of the nursing home residents received an ocular examination upon admission that determined the presence or absence of four varieties of eye disease-i.e. cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Demographic data were obtained through chart review. Results indicate that prevalence rates of eye disease found in geriatric nursing home populations are generally higher than those found in other geriatric populations. With the exception of the rates for diabetic retinopathy, the rates found in the combined nursing home population sampled in this study were much higher than those reported in any previous study. It is concluded that eye disease is a more serious problem for elderly residents of nursing homes than for the elderly who reside in the community. Possible reasons for this are discussed.