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How do I read my glasses prescription?

It isn't as hard as you think once you know what the terms and abbreviations mean. Take below prescription as an example.

DISTANCE VISION (DV) & NEAR VISION (NV)

  • Distance Vision : Also known as farsightedness or hyperopia. It is a defect of vision in which closer objects appear to be blurred.
  • Near Vision : Also known as nearsightedness or myopia. Nearsighted means that with your natural uncorrected vision, you can see closer or "nearer" objects but those further out get blurry.

PUPILLARY DISTANCE (PD)

Used to Center Lenses Over Eyes
  • Monocular PD: PD measurement written as two numbers e.g. 32/33
  • Binocular PD: PD measurement written as one number (if the left and right side have been added together) e.g. 65

SPHERE (SPH)

Sphere indicates the amount of lens power prescribed to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness. If the number has a minus sign (-), you are nearsighted; if the number has a plus sign (+) or there's no plus or a minus sign, you are farsighted.

CYLINDER (CYL)

Cylinder indicates the amount of lens power for astigmatism. If nothing appears in this column, you have no astigmatism, or yours is so slight that it is not necessary to correct it.

AXIS

Axis describes the lens meridian that contains cylinder power to correct astigmatism. The axis is defined with a number from 1 to 180. If your eyeglass prescription includes cylinder power, it also must include an axis value. It comes after the cylinder power and is preceded by an "x" when written freehand.

ADD

Add is the added magnifying power applied to the bottom part of multifocal lenses to correct presbyopia. The number always appears with a plus sign, and even if it doesn't, it's understood as a "plus" power. It usually ranges from +0.75 to +3.00 D and will be the same power for both eyes.

O.D. and O.S.

OD stands for right eyes.
OS stands for left eyes.

PRISM

Prism is the amount of prismatic power. It's prescribed to compensate for eye alignment problems. It's not commonly found in eyeglass prescriptions. When present, the presentation is indicated in either metric or fractional English units (0.5 or ½, for example). The direction of the prism is indicated by noting the relative position of its "BASE" or the thickest edge. Four abbreviations are used for prism direction: BU = base up; BD = base down; BI = base in (toward the wearer's nose); BO = base out (toward the wearer's ear).