Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were measured in 95 residents of a hostel for the aged (mean age = 83 years) using a dual-contrast letter chart and the Melbourne Edge Test (MET). Vision (as measured by visual acuity, the MET, low-contrast visual acuity, and difference between high- and low-contrast acuity) decreased significantly with age and all four measures were significantly correlated. Subjects with a clinical eye disorder had poorer vision than those without a disorder although the differences were not significant. Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were not associated with body sway when subjects were standing on a firm base. However, when the subjects were placed in a situation which provided reduced support (standing on a compliant surface), body sway was associated with poor visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. There was also a difference in contrast sensitivity between those who fell one or more times in a year of follow-up and those who did not fall. It appears that reduced vision may be a predisposing factor to postural imbalance and falls in elderly persons.