How to Read an Eyeglass Prescription

How to Read an Eyeglass Prescription

When your optometrist first hands you your eyeglass prescription, they might as well be showing you hieroglyphs. However, reading it is not as difficult as it seems! All you have to do is learn to recognize the letters and numbers so you can understand what they represent.

The first thing you will notice is the abbreviations OD (Oculus Dexter) which refers to the right eye, and OS (Oculus Sinister), which refers to the left eye. Sometimes you’ll find OU, which refers to both eyes.

Then, you’ll notice the numbers. The first number in an eyeglass prescription is the Spherical Correction (SPH), which measures how powerful the lens has to be to correct nearsightedness (a-) or farsightedness (a+). The greater the number, the more correction your vision requires.

So, if your eyeglass prescription reads -1.00, it means you have one D (diopter) of nearsightedness, which is a lot. If it reads +1.00, it means you have a small amount of farsightedness.

The second number you’ll find is the cylindrical correction, but this is only relevant for people with astigmatism. It’s written in the order S x C x Axis (example: -2.00 x +1.00 x 90).

The S is the spherical portion of the prescription which refers to the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness. The C refers to the degree of astigmatism, which can be negative or positive. Lastly, the Axis is a number between 0 and 180 degrees and it refers to the astigmatism orientation.

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