In humans, experimental access to single sensory receptors is difficult to achieve, yet it is crucial for learning how the signals arising from each receptor are transformed into perception. By combining adaptive optics microstimulation with high-speed eye tracking, we show that retinal function can be probed at the level of the individual cone photoreceptor in living eyes. Classical psychometric functions were obtained from cone-sized microstimuli targeted to single photoreceptors. Revealed psychophysically, the cone mosaic also manifests a variable sensitivity to light across its surface that accords with a simple model of cone light capture. Because this microscopic grain of vision could be detected on the perceptual level, it suggests that photoreceptors can act individually to shape perception, if the normally suboptimal relay of light by the eye's optics is corrected. Thus the precise arrangement of cones and the exact placement of stimuli onto those cones create the initial retinal limits on signals mediating spatial vision. © 2014 the authors.