The rate of occurrence of correctable undetected visual acuity deficit (CUVAD) in a population of patients aged 65 and over was investigated, using a pinhole screening method, to compare the sociodemographic and optical eye care habits of patients with or without a functionally significant CUVAD. Of 136 patients 46 (34%) were found to have a functionally significant CUVAD in one or both eyes which was not significantly associated with optician or general practitioner contact, age, sex, social class, living situation, or number of medications. Half the patients with significant CUVAD had not attended for 2 years mainly because of financial considerations. Three quarters attended of their own volition; only one in seven were prompted by opticians' postal invitations. It was concluded that a significant degree of CUVAD could be detected using a simple procedure which can be carried out by general practitioners as part of their general elderly health screen.