During a two-year period a randomly selected age-stratified sample of subjects 65 years old and older living in Gisborne, New Zealand, was examined by an ophthalmologist to investigate visual acuity and the prevalence of the major disorders of vision in old age. A total of 481 subjects (a response rate of 86.2%) completed the study. When the results were weighted to remove the effect of stratified sampling, the following prevalence rates for the population 65 years and over were obtained: cataract, 30.1% with no sex difference and an increasing prevalence with increasing age; senile macular degeneration, 6.4% with no sex difference and an increasing prevalence with increasing age; glaucoma, 3.6% with no sex difference except for women 90 years old or older who had a higher rate. The prevalence of glaucoma increased with increasing age in women, but in men there was no clear pattern; diabetic retinopathy, 0.5%. In the population 65 years old and older, we estimated that 81% of the men and 68.8% of the women had best corrected visual acuities of 6/9 (20/30) or better in the better eye.