There is currently considerable debate concerning the visual impact of correcting the higher order aberrations of the eye. We describe new measurements of a large population of human eyes and compute the visual benefit of correcting higher order aberrations. We also describe the increase in contrast sensitivity when higher order aberrations are corrected with an adaptive optics system. All these results suggest that many, though not all, observers with normal vision would receive worthwhile improvements in spatial vision from customized vision correction, at least over a range of viewing distances and particularly when the pupils are large. Keratoconic patients or patients suffering from spherical aberration as a result of laser refractive surgery as it is presently performed would especially benefit. These results encourage the development of methods to correct higher order aberrations.