In the 5 years since the first wavefront-based LASIK treatment on normal eyes, the ophthalmology profession has had to confront a new language based on astronomy, optics and mathematics. Over this time wavefront technology has been used for diagnosis and treatment, and its application has made the profession define what is meant by good vision, and determine whether, with psychophysical and psychometric tests, it is possible understand how an individual perceives the world. The clinical application of wavefront technology has forced ophthalmologists and vision scientists with an engineering bias to talk to those with a biological bias, and to appreciate that if you try and change the corneal shape, its biological, anatomical and optical properties exist within a complex external eye environment. This perspective article demonstrates that wavefront analysis is a useful diagnostic tool, and that wavefront-based corneal refractive surgery is an improvement over conventional techniques. Its use by an ophthalmologist is a clinical decision specific to an individual patient.