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Eye Prescription – How to Read It

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Just like it is difficult to understand the names of medicines that a doctor prescribes, it is quite difficult to understand an eye prescription. The reason here is that technical terms are used and unless you have at least basic knowledge you won’t be able to read your prescription. Many people barely care about this and carry their prescription to the shop to get their eye glass lensesor contact lenses. They do not care about reading and understanding, which is why some of them end up with the wrong strength of lenses. This can either aggravate your eyesight impairment or damage your eyes.

types of eyeglasses lenses on reading chart

Importance of Eye Prescription

When you know how to read your prescription you will be well informed about your eyes and when asked, even if you lose your prescription, you will be able to answer accurately. This will make it easier for your doctor to get an insight of your past condition and whether there has been any improvement. You can also talk to the person fixing your glasses or fashioning new contact lenses for you according to the strength. You can also choose what style of glasses that you want according to your preference like cat eye prescription glasses. Keep in mind that being able to read the prescription is important even if you do not need glasses because buying colored contact lenses if and when needed will become much easier.

eye chart reading sample

A prescription not just speaks of the requirement of each eye but also of the shape of each eye, which is of paramount importance while making glasses as well as lenses with or without strength. It also indicates the exact condition of your impairment such as the strength of each eye and whether you suffer with farsightedness, nearsightedness, or both.

nikita pointy wood grain cat eye clear glasses

How to Read Eye Prescription

• The first thing to check is whether both your eyes need correction or just one of them. At the beginning of the prescription itself you will see Latin abbreviations, which will indicate this. You will see any of the following three: OS, OD, and OU. OS means“oculus sinister”, which means it is the left eye that needs correction. OD means “oculus dextrus”, which means it is the right eye that needs correction. OU refers to both the eyes.

• Below these abbreviations you will see a sign followed by a number. If you see a smaller number such as 0.75 or 1.25, your eye has better health. If the number is large such as 4 or 5, your eyesight is really bad. Coming to the signs, you will either see + or -. A + sign indicates that you can see objects that are far from you clearly but not the closer objects. This condition is called farsightedness and will require you to wear reading glasses. A – Sign indicates that you can see objects that are close to you but not the objects that are far from you. This condition is called nearsightedness. If you have both eyesight problems you will see separate numbers, one with a + sign and one with a – sign.

• Astigmatism is also an eye condition. You will see additional letters such as S, A, and C. S is about far or nearsightedness, C is the measurement of the impairment, and A is the position of the condition in the eye. You will see this measured in degree (0 to 180 degrees).

• Most doctor offices also have an eye prescription chart that you can refer to for the same purpose.

doctors eye prescription reading sample


Being well informed about your eye prescription will help you be aware of bad sellers of glasses and lenses. You will also be able to strike up a good conversation with the doctor about corrective measures for the same.

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