Nursing home residents have a high prevalence of remediable visual impairment and blindness. Future research on the effectiveness of providing eye care to nursing home residents will need to include a vision-targeted health-related quality of life (HRQOL) instrument appropriate for this population. The purpose of this study was to identify the core content areas for such an instrument. In-depth interviews on vision-related issues were conducted with 40 residents. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, and coded using a standardized protocol. Binocular distance and near visual acuity were assessed using the resident's 'walking around' correction to examine whether one vision-specific HRQOL measure could address the needs of residents with 'good' and 'poor' vision. Overall 1070 vision-related comments were identified. Residents mentioned 315 problem comments that were grouped into 13 categories, including ocular symptoms (18% of comments), reading (15%), general vision (13%), psychological distress (12%), and activities of daily living (ADLs) (7%). Compared to published data on vision-specific content areas most relevant to community based persons, nursing home residents focused more on ocular symptoms and basic ADLs, with no mention of issues related to driving, home care, and finances. The majority of categories mentioned did not differ on the proportion of comments made by those with 'good' and 'poor' visual acuity, suggesting that one vision-specific HRQOL instrument would be appropriate for residents with varying levels of visual acuity. Future work will focus on developing a vision-specific HRQOL instrument for nursing home residents.