Human vision provides useful information about the shape and color of the objects around us. It works well in many, but not all, lighting conditions. Since the advent of human-made light sources, it has been important to understand how illumination affects vision quality, but this has been surprisingly difficult. The widespread introduction of solid-state light emitters has increased the urgency of this problem. Experts still debate how lighting can best enable high-quality vision—a key issue since about one-fifth of global electrical power production is used to make light. Photometry, the measurement of the visual quantity of light, is well established, yet significant uncertainties remain. Colorimetry, the measurement of color, has achieved good reproducibility, but researchers still struggle to understand how illumination can best enable high-quality color vision. Fortunately, in recent years, considerable progress has been made. Here, we summarize the current understanding and discuss key areas for future study.