OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the association between the Minimum Data Set's (MDS) Vision Patterns section and near and distance visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in nursing home residents. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Seventeen nursing homes in the Birmingham, Alabama, area. PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred seventy-one nursing home residents aged 55 and older with Mini-Mental State Examination scores of 13 or greater. MEASUREMENTS: The MDS 2.0 assessment for vision from the date closest to acuity and contrast sensitivity assessment were obtained from the resident's medical record. Acuity and contrast sensitivity were measured using the ETDRS chart and Pelli-Robson chart, respectively. RESULTS: The MDS rating of visual status was associated with distance and near visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. The MDS performed poorly in distinguishing residents with mild visual impairment from those with moderate visual impairment. For residents who were rated on the MDS as having adequate vision, 45.9% had distance acuity worse than 20/40 in the better eye, 72.8% had near acuity worse than 20/40 in the better eye, and 85.8% had contrast sensitivity less than 1.50. CONCLUSION: The MDS 2.0 assessment for vision in nursing home residents is positively associated with visual acuity and contrast sensitivity but does not adequately distinguish between individuals with mild and moderate visual impairment and classifies many as having adequate vision who have visual impairment. The validity of the MDS 2.0 as a mechanism for triggering comprehensive eye care for nursing home residents is questionable.