We investigated the relationship between visual acuity, early growth and eye disease in a retrospective cohort study of 700 individuals in North Hertfordshire. Records of birth weight and weight at one year were used to determine early growth. We measured visual acuity and age-related eye diseases using standard instruments in those same individuals (now aged 63 to 73). Visual acuity below the legal threshold for driving in the UK (6/11 or poorer) was present in 13% of subjects. There was no clear association between birth weight or weight at one year and visual acuity. Vision impairment was found to be associated with refractive error, cataract, age-related maculopathy, and elevated macular threshold. After controlling for the effects of eye disease, increasing age remained a significant predictor of poorer visual acuity.