Have An Eyewear Prescription? Learn To Read It!

by admin on 18/04/2009


Prescription eyewear is wonderful for the person who cannot see as they should, however, the prescription itself takes more than just good vision to be able to read and understand. To many, this eyewear prescription reads like a foreign language.  With all the abbreviations and numbers…what does it all reveal?

Let’s begin by first looking at the very top of the eyewear prescription.  Normally, at this location will be the name of the practice or eye doctor giving the examination along with the address and telephone number.  This can be used for many obvious reasons of contact, however, the not so obvious thing this identification is used for is tracking fraudulent prescriptions which is a crime. Somewhere right next to the prescription is the name of the patient and the date.  The date is very important as most optical eyewear prescriptions are expired after one year.  Any alteration to this expiration date is only to be done by the examining Optometrist or Ophthalmologist, not an Optician.

Beneath the name and date of the eyewear prescription are slots that state the magnification of the prescription.   The word DISTANCE and ADD are always on the left-hand side of the prescription.  DISTANCE  and ADD values are numbers filled in by the eye doctor which enhance the vision of the patient when wearing their glasses.

O.D. and O.S., in simple terms, mean right eye(O.D.) and left eye(O.S.).  These abbreviations are used to distinguish the right eye, which is always on the top, from the left eye, which is always on the bottom.

The first number in these slots will correspond to the SPHERICAL  value;the second number to the right of the spherical value corresponds to the CYLINDER, or CYLINDRICAL value.  In short, these values have been calculated from the refraction part of the examination where the doctor asks the highly popular phrase “better here, or better here” when reading the Snellen eye chart.  The AXIS is also a part of the popular phrase above.  All of these numbers regulate the quality of vision in the eyeglass lenses which should ultimately provide the best possible optimal eyesight.

Also on the eyewear prescription is the doctor’s recommendations.  This portion the doctor may or may not discuss with you,but the Optician will and always should.  The doctor’s recommendations range from the type of eyeglasses, type of lens material and tints and coatings.  The eye doctor will check which he or she recommends, and from there, the Optician will guide the patient through the eyeglasses selections.

In conclusion, optical eyewear prescriptions aren’t that hard to read…especially when broken down outside of the office!

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