A representative population sample (n = 203) aged 82 years was studied to determine the prevalence of impaired vision and visual disability in a cohort previously investigated at the age of 70 years. Visual impairments and disabilities were generally most marked among the non-ambulatory subjects. In the ambulatory group (n = 160) 54% had VA greater than 0.8 and 8% VA less than 0.3. Near vision was also markedly better in this group. About 90% of the ambulatory cases could read J2 or better, read books and watch TV. Statistical analysis showed no sex difference with respect to visual ability for ambulatory subjects. Subjects with a wide range of distance VA were able to read J1 and J2, whereas only one ambulatory patient with J4 or worse had a distance VA above 0.3. To watch TV and manage most of the everyday activities a distance VA of 0.4-0.5 was required. To read newspapers and books a near vision of J2 was needed and for the telephone book J1 was needed. Improvements of near vision obtained by a change of own glasses were small. Hobby and household work proved less dependent on vision. The subjects showed a fairly realistic view of their visual capability, and distance VA was a valuable predictor of visual ability and disability.