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When you have your eye exam and the doctor gives you a copy of your eyeglass prescription, do you know how to read it? What does OD, OS, and OU mean?

Here is a Sample Prescription:


An eyeglass prescription is written in a standardized format with standardized notation so it can be interpreted worldwide. Let’s look at one and break it down:

-2.00 -1.00 x 180. The first number (-2.00) tells us the spherical refractive error (farsightedness or nearsightedness). In this case, because there is a minus sign in front of the 2.00, this patient is nearsighted. A plus sign would indicate farsightedness.

The second number (-1.00) is the astigmatism. If there is no astigmatism, we generally write the letters DS or SPH after the first number to let the optician know that we didn’t just forget to write in the astigmatism.

The final number (180) is the direction (AXIS) of the astigmatism. Astigmatism, a football-shaped eye, can be measured in any direction around the clock. We use the numbers from 90 to 180 to indicate the orientation of the football shape.

There may be additional numbers in a glasses prescription. For instance, if the basic prescription is followed by a small number with a superscript (1^) it indicates prism correction. There may be more than one set of prism numbers for each eye.

Lastly, there can also be numbers denoting the amount of near reading strength needed (bifocal or progressive). They usually go from +0.75 to +3.00, depending on age and visual need.

The letters OD and OS in front of a prescription let us know which eye each string of numbers is for. OD (Oculus Dexter) stands for right eye and OS (Oculus Sinister) for left eye, while OU (Oculus Uterque, Oculus Unitas or Oculus Uniter) means both eyes.

  • Sphere: This number measurement reflects the extent of the nearsightedness or farsightedness.
  • Cylinder: This number measurement refers to the amount of astigmatism (an irregularly shaped cornea which causes blurring) in the eye.
  • Axis:This number measurement describes the astigmatism in degrees from the horizontal (most left and right eyes have the same axis in astigmatism) axis.
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    Comments on: "How To Read An Eyeglass Prescription" (111)

    1. Hello there! 馃檪 Just dropping by from mybloglog 馃榾 nice blog u have here.. gooday!

    2. Thanks for the comment. Glad to have you here!

    3. what does the vertical prism mean
      1.75 BU
      1.75 BD

    4. Robin,

      Thanks for your question and visiting!

      What you have is
      OD 1.75 BU
      OS 1.75 BD

      1.75 is the diopters of prism in each eye.

      BU means Base Up (where the prism is located)
      BD means Base Down (also where the prism is located)

      Total prism power is 3.50 Diopters of prism.

      Let me know if this helps at all and if there is any other concerns I may help you out with.

    5. in explanation of Sphere you say,”This number measurement reflects the extent of the nearsightedness or farsightedness.” I would suggest you modify it like, “This number if negative reflects the extent of nearsightedness and if positive reflects the extent of farsightedness”. If thats correct.

    6. is OD -1.25 sph and OS -1.25 +.025 X 090 bad

    7. how does the doctor use the phoropter to determine your eyesight?

    8. Laura,

      The phoropter contains thousands of lens combos that can be manually introduced in front of your eyes one lens at a time. Using the phoropter, your doctor will show you a series of “either/or” lens choices and ask you which of the two lenses makes things look clearer. Based on your responses, your doctor will fine-tune your eyeglasses prescription to give you the clearest, most comfortable vision possible.
      Hope this helps!

    9. Adriana Carpio said:

      What does this prescription mean:
      +0.25 -0.50 180
      +0.75 -0.75 180

    10. Is a value for D.V./O.D Axis noted as “05” more likely to mean “050” or “005”?

      (I am trying to order glasses on-line and my opthamologist used only two digits instead of three for this value. Thanks!)

    11. Tim,

      Sorry it took me a while to answer. I work some crazy hours.

      If the axis on your Rx says “05,” then it means “005.” If it was 50 then it would read 050 or 50. Hope that helps!

    12. Angie,

      Thanks so much for the great explanation!

      I have a question, though. In the Sample1 and Sample2 prescriptions there are no values under Cyl and Axis for the left eye – why is that?

      Is that because the Cyl and Axis values in them are the same for both eyes or is it because the left eye do not have those values in this case?

      I apologize in advance if it’s a silly question.


    13. @Bill
      There are no silly questions….
      The reason why there is no cylinder and axis in the left eye in both sample prescriptions is because there is no need for it. There is no need for the correction for astigmatism so therefore only a spherical prescription is needed. I hope this helps answer your question.

      Please feel free to contact me with any further questions that you may have. Thanks again for your question and hope to see you here soon!!

      Best Regards,
      Angie Conn

    14. I am in the process of ordering new glasses online and can’t seem to work this out. My optician has noted that the Cyl for my right eye is “05” and the Cyl for my left eye is “-0.50″… What does the “05” mean? Thanks.

    15. @Anita
      First, thank you for visiting and your question.

      To me it seem like the “05” could mean either a -.50 or +.50. I would call your optician/optometrist to find out for sure before you order glasses online.
      Southern Optical is a good reference for your purchase. I highly recommend them. http://www.southern-optical.com

      Please let me know what your optician says about your prescription. I would like to know…

      Angie Conn

    16. Angie,
      Southern-optical appears to be for eye care professionals only and not for direct ordering with a prescription – correct?

    17. @Steve
      It appears so, but maybe if you use their contact form and tell them that you want to purchase glasses from them, then maybe they will. I do work for them so I can find out for you if you would like.

    18. mine is:
      OD -150DS
      OS pl -025 x 005

      how come it’s not like the format you mentioned?
      the optometrist said my left eye is not nearsighted, but why there’s -025 x 005?


    19. Peggy MacIntyre said:

      My prescription reads:

      Sphere Cylinder Axis Add
      OD: -3.75 -0.75 030 +2.50
      OS: -3.25 -0.50 160 +2.50

      I want to get a pair of reading glasses and a pair of single vision lenses for nearsightedness. My question is does all this information apply to reading glasses? Would the same correction need to be made to them as for the nearsighted lenses?

    20. Here is mine. Any thoughts??

      OD 025 -100 005
      OS 025 DS

    21. @Jason

      You pretty much have a simple prescription to correct for astigmatism in your right eye. Really no correction necessary for your left. Thanks!

    22. adele levine said:

      i recently got a perscription and i want to order online..re shere is-4.75 cyl is + 075 and axis 9s 15 le is -4,25 +o.75 and sxis 180…when i brought this to my optomotrist he said that he writes it differently..-400 -0.75×105 le -350 -o.75 axis 090.question how can the axis be the same if one is a – and one is a plus.. and why are the axis so different..thanks

    23. @ Adele Levine

      Good question! A lot of Ophthalmologist’s will write out their prescriptions cylinder in plus (+) form. It’s just how they do things. Then that prescription gets transposed into what your Rx is. The Axis never changes, only the + (plus) sign. It is always turned into a – (minus). When you have a prescription with + cylinder, you always have to change your axis by 90 degrees. SO your real prescription reads:

      OD -4.00 -0.75 x 105
      OS -3.50 -o.75 x 90

      No matter in which way you write it, it always ends up like this (above).

      Hope this somewhat helps. Thanks for the question!!!

      Best Regards,
      Angie –
      “The Optical Network”

    24. joseph schuchman said:

      How can I check that the glasses were accuratly made to my prescription.



    25. @ Joe

      Well, you can take your glasses to any eyecare place and have them read your glasses on a “Lensometer.” They should be able to tell you your prescription and if they were made according to your Rx.

      Thanks for the question!!


    26. My perscriptions from past two exams were

      on 1/27/2004
      R -7.25-0.25×130
      L -4.75-0.50×140

      on 9/12/2007
      R -7.25-0.75×132
      L -5.00-0.50×148

      Question is why my right eye cylinder changed from -0.25 to -0.75? I just got my new pair of glass and I feel stressed on my right eye. Is this normal?


    27. My optometist made the comment that I have a very unusual prescription:

      od +.50 -1.75 170
      os -.50 -.25 085

      Any thoughts?

    28. Hi, I want to buy a pair of Halloween contact lenses and there’s an option at the website that confuses me. It has a ‘PowerOD’ and a ‘PowerOS’ option which I have to provide so as to proceed with my order.

      The website is American and I am from Greece. I have my doctor’s eyeglasses prescription but I fear that the measuring system differs between Europe and the US.
      The website has only one eye diameter option which is 14.5 whereas my prescription reads 65. How can I find out my diameter in the US metric system? There’s also a ‘BC’ box that has a standard 8.6 value. What do all these values mean in the European system?

      My prescription reads:
      Sph. Cyl. Axis Add
      R -5.00 -3.50 0 0.00
      L -5.00 -3.00 0 0.00

      How can I know the correct ‘PowerOD’ and’PowerOS’ values so that I can proceed with my contacts’ order?
      This is the link of the website I am talking about (so that you can see what I mean)


      Please check the above link and let me know (by e-mail if possible).

      Thank you in advance.

    29. @James
      Thanks for your question and I am sorry that it has taken me this long to answer it. First of all, why did you get 2 eye exams within the same year? Have you been noticing a change in your vision or were you recommended to? Usually an eyeglass prescription is good for 1-2 years and a contact prescription is good for only 1 year. It could be that your astigmatism got a little worse, that’s all. There is not much of a big increase and that is why your eye feels strain. Your brain has to adjust. After about 2 weeks and you still feel strain and pulling on your eyes, then I would recommend that you go back to your doctor..

      Best Regards,

      Thanks for visiting and your question! I really do not see anything unusual about your Rx. I see prescriptions like that all the time where one eye has a minus and the other has a plus. Your left eye has hardly any correction, but your right eye is mainly correcting for astigmatism. Don’t worry, your prescription is not unusual….

      Best Regards,

      Thanks for visiting and the question!!
      First of all, an eyeglass prescription is NOT your contact lens prescription. They are totally different. What you need to do is go get a contact lens fitting from your eye doctor. From your prescription, it looks like you have a lot of astigmatism correction. I went to that website and they only do contacts for spherical prescription, which means no astigmatism correction. Just explain to your doctor what you are looking for and he will recommend what is best. Most eye doctors have a list of vendors that sell those Halloween contacts. We use to sell a lot of Wild Eyes. Go to http://www.wild-eyes.com to see what they have. Remember to go to your doctor first to get a fitting and the right prescription for your contact lenses. Thanks a bunch!!

      Best Regards,

    30. Hi there! Am I glad to find a forum like this one! Okay, I have some questions and a description of visual problems which, knowing me, is probably going to be convoluted and lengthy. I will try to keep it as simple as possible.

      I am 43 years old and was first diagnosed as moderately myopic at age eight. For 35 years, I have gotten two or three new pairs of glasses almost every single year, have never experienced any problems and have never gone back with complaints of any type. In 3/07, it had been four years since my last exam (the longest I’d ever let it go) and I began noticing my right eye having more trouble focusing which manifested as sort of an “oily film” or “fuzzy” feeling in my right eye. I had also begun noticing some minor problems with close reading and felt it was probably time for bifocals. I should mention here that my work involves staring at plain type on a computer screen for 12 hours a day, but this has never been a problem in 25 years.

      A found a wonderful optometrist who did the world’s most complete medical eye exam and could not find any reason for the feeling the right eye had of an “oily film” over it. She felt the explanation was that my right eye, which had always been slightly more myopic than the left, had actually had a decrease in myopia, while the left eye had exhibited a slight increase. Below is the prescription she issued:

      OD: -6.75 -1.25 105 Add: +1.25
      OS: -6.75 -1.00 69 Add: +1.25

      I had two pairs of glasses made in this prescription, but opted against the bifocals because I just could not afford to add them and the close-reading issue wasn’t that big a problem for me.

      When I got the new glasses and began wearing them, I had unusual trouble adjusting to them. When I would glance at one thing and then another, in a restaurant, for example, at various distances, I would get dizzy and my eyes would take a moment to adjust, with “swimming” vision sensation, for lack of better terminology. A friend listened to my description and instantly said “They’re too strong. Take them back.” I felt she was wrong. When I stopped moving my head and focused on something, it came into clear view, so I didn’t feel the prescription was too strong. It felt more that my eyes weren’t working together as a unit. I only wore the new glasses when out and about, and continued to wear the four-year-old prescription for work. I still had the occasional feeling that the right eye was a little fuzzy, but I preferred that to the headache, nausea and dizzy “swimminess” of the new lenses. What kind of dummy lets nine months of this nonsense go by without doing anything about it? Um…that would be me. 馃檪

      Okay, here’s the heart of the problem: About three weeks ago, I decided that the blurriness in my right eye with the now-five-year-old prescription was just too much to put up with and it was time to just bite the bullet and break in the new glasses (with the above-noted prescription). For two or three days, I tried not to change my distance of focus too quickly, not to turn my head to quickly to look at something else, take ibuprofen for the headache, etc., and it seemed to be okay. I thought I was getting used to the glasses. On the fourth day, I started getting a sensation that I can’t even describe. It felt, once again, like my right eye was having trouble focusing, working as a unit with the left eye, like there is constantly a film over it. There is no organic film there, other than the one that forms after 10 hours of my very deliberately and firmly blinking that eye closed and opening it again, over and over, to make things come into focus. Which they do, for a few minutes, before fading back to swimminess and fuzziness.

      Several times, I tried going back to the old glasses, but by now I REALLY could not get used to the old prescription, so I’ve stuck with the new ones.

      The visual problems have persisted and I just cannot even describe them to the doctor. I don’t have endless funds to keep going back for examinations, so I am trying to come up with a better description of what is going on. I just feel like my eyes are not working together as a UNIT. I have never been so conscious of my eyes as two separate organs before…vision was just VISION…one sense. I suppose what I’m hoping is that with my description of the symptoms and my prescription noted above, something might occur to you as being the possible culprit.

      Here’s one more strange clue: Without my glasses, my ability to read close print is exactly the same in both eyes – the page must be about four inches from my eyeballs. LOL… But still, it’s the same for each eye. WITH the glasses on, the distance is different. With both eyes open, the page gets blurry at about 10 inches from the eyes. In just the left eye, I can see the page clearly right up until it’s about 7-8 inches away. In just the right eye (the problem eye all along), I can see the clearly only until it’s 14-15 inches from the eye. Can you think of any reason why that would be, if the myopia is the same in each eye? I’ve heard that it’s unusual for presbyopia to be different in each eye.

      I don’t feel there is any sort of intermediate-distance presbyopia going on (as was mentioned by a friend). When I close one eye and then another to look at the computer screen from 25 inches away, both eyes see the screen clearly, although the right one not as quickly. I have to blink a few times and sort of “work” to bring that eye into focus, but then the right eye can see the letters on the screen perfectly. Together, though, the vision is just not up to par and it is literally driving me CRAZY and starting to affect my job. By the end of my workday, my eyes are incredibly red and glassy – eyestrain? I’ve NEVER had problems with working at a computer 12 hours a day and these problems came on in the course of four days of wearing a new lens prescription.

      I’ve been planning to go back to the optometrist I saw last, but I keep hesitating because I just don’t know how to explain what is going on without sounding like a neurotic nut! If you have a concise description for me to give to her, I’m listening! 馃檪

      Please forgive me the length of this query. I have become extremely frustrated and honestly, have stood outside my optometrist’s office, ready to go in and see if she was available, and I always think “No, give it some more time to see if what is going on becomes clearer so you can thus EXPLAIN it more clearly!”

      Based on what I’ve said (sorry about all that!), is anything jumping out at you as something I should ask about? Could it be that the visual acuity prescription of each lens is correct but the cylinder or axis prescription is off? I AM going to see a professional soon, but I don’t even know how to BEGIN to describe what is going on! I suppose it comes down to this: Each eye seems to see clearly individually, except on close reading, where there is a huge difference with the lenses on. But they are NOT WORKING TOGETHER somehow.

      Any, any information you could provide, especially regarding how I might describe this to the optometrist or what the problem may be, would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you! Susannah C.

    31. Hi Susannah!!

      I am glad that you came by….I am not quite sure if I can give you any answers, but I can give opinions and what I would do if I was in your situation.

      About the “fuzzy Film” feeling…..Did your doctor check you for cataracts? I have seen a lot of patients who has cataracts that have the same symptoms. Did he check you for Glaucoma? What were your pressure reading from the Tonometry test?
      Other than that, I don’t see why you would be getting that oily film feeling…Unless you wear contacts and when they are dirty, they cam get that fuzzy film, but you did not mention that you wear contacts.

      Do you wear bifocals, progressives or just have a pair of glasses for distance and one for reading? I have seen a lot of times where the doctor will prescribe two separate bifocal (ADD Power) prescriptions. One for each eye would be different.

      I know with a new prescription and especially a new bifocal prescription it does take some time for your brain to adjust.

      One last question? Do you see an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist? I would recommend going to see an Ophthalmologist. They are more equipped and give a more thorough exam. Don’t think that you sound nuts when you tell him/her your problem. Just tell him/her everything that you told me. I am pretty sure that he/she will not laugh. Am Ophthalmologist can perform surgeries and are, to me, more knowledgeable because they went to school for a longer time.

      I know that I probably didn’t help you out that much, but I wish you the best of luck. Let me know what the result is of all this….I am curious to know what the Dr. says.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to come here. It really means a lot….

      Best Regards,

    32. Mine doesn’t look anything like that.. it says

      right: 0.00 / -1.25 X 165
      left: 0.00 / -1.25 X 15

      does that make sense?

    33. Hi! I need help in ordering my glasses online. My ophthalmologist wrote my prescription and I want to make sure I’m entering it correctly on the ordering website. It reads:

      OD -1.25 +0.75 X008
      OS -100 +075 x003

      What I can’t figure out is 1) if it needs to be converted to something else and 2) why the second line doesn’t have decimal points.

      Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

    34. I don’t know if this is the right place to post this, but I’ll give it a try.

      How bad is it to not have both eyes seeing the same amount of clarity? I ask this because I just got new glasses made (moderate nearsightedness), and with the new glasses the right eye is incredibly clear, but the left eye is slightly blurry. Slightly blurry, it’s still pretty good sight though. I only notice it when reading print from a distance–like signs on the highway. I can read them very well, but notice the left eye is off if I close my right eye. I was pretty blurry before, since my glasses were 3 years old and my vision got worse. I got my new lenses (old frames and they used my pupil distance from 3 years ago) at Lenscrafters 2 days ago. I know I have 90 days to get them remade if I go back to the ophthalmologist, but I’m not sure I want to go through the hassle again. Three years ago, it took 3 lens remakes to tweak the prescription right. First, I had slight astigmatism correction which caused some distortion. So he took that out and corrected me to 20/20. That was too strong (I’ve had problems with 20/20, even with contacts), and after 2 weeks of trying it with lots of headaches and eyestrain, I was bumped back a little. I’m afraid of going through multiple trips to the doctor/trips to lenscrafters again. I’m busy and newly married…I just makes me tired thinking of it!

      I’m also concerned with the thought of having the lenses remade. The lady at Lenscrafters didn’t seem thrilled when I said I wanted to use the old frames….said they can fall apart “in the machine” if they are old….took them from me and fiddled with the screws and then said the screws looked ok, so it would be fine. My glasses are in great shape I think. I take good care of them. When I got them back, I noticed that the screws holding the frame onto the lenses are stripped now, so it might be hard to get the screws out. Not much for a screwdriver to grab onto, but maybe it would be ok. I don’t know if the holes for the screws are stripped though…it seems to be holding fine. My husband was reassuring me that they can just give me new screws next time, that of course they can replace something like that. I’ve just heard how places like that really want you to buy new glasses from them. I just love the frames I have…it would make me sad to not wear them anymore!

      I also wasn’t confident that they gave me the antireflective lenses like I paid for, since I feel like there are more reflections than before, but I’m probably being paranoid. I read that reflections appear colored—green/purple….when I see things in the sides of my lenses, they are greenish, so I guess that means it’s all right.

      Anyway…I’m just trying to figure out what to do. It’s stressing me out. I want to get my sunglasses and back-up plastic glasses (which I wear for exercising and horse riding) made, but want to decide on if I’m leaving the prescription as is, before I take them in. It’s only been 2 days, so I should probably give it more time! I wish I could go back to my contacts, but I have allergy issues that put bumps inside my eyelids. 馃槮

    35. Hi, I was curious if there was a standard axis… my prescription looks like this:

      sphere cylinder
      -0.50 05
      -0.50 05

      but there are no axis values. I need to know if there is an ‘understood’ value there, as I’m trying to order glasses online!


    36. Hi,
      I’d like to comment on the above story about Susannah. I am an opthalmologist and have a few simple possibilities, some of which Angie mentioned.
      For one thing, your description of feeling strange while looking around in your new glasses sounds normal. Any time a change is made, especially with astigmatism, there will be a period of “weirdness” for a few days. If it persists, most likely all you need is either an adjustment (astigmatic lenses have to sit almost EXACTLY in the right orientation to give you adequate vision), or the doctor may have overprescribed your lenses. Just request a re-check and they will check both of those for you.
      As for the fuzzy film — if it clears up when you blink, this is most likely due to dry eye. Dry eye is not almost bilateral, it is sometimes unilateral or asymmetric. If it doesn’t clear up, you most likely have a cataract that is denser in one eye than the other. Most people in their 40s have early cataracts, but 90% of eye doctors won’t mention it to the patient because its so mild. Cataracts are like gray hair, they happen to everyone. Some people just get denser ones sooner, some people get different shaped ones. Just ask the eye doctor about it.

      One last thing I’d like to mention, pertains to Angie’s reply about optometrist vs. opthalmologists. You mentioned that ophthalmologists give more thorough exams. Believe it or not, optometrists give more thorough exams. A typical exam with an optometrist takes 30 minutes, while a typical exam with an ophthalmologist takes 15 minutes. Optometrists give more thorough exams because that is the way they are trained. Ophthalmologists are trained on a medical model, as in “see the problem, treat the problem” not so much a “look for anything, find anything” methodology. Both optometrists and opthalmologists use the same equipment, and are equally equipped for primary eye care exams. Yes, we do go to school for a longer amount of time than optometrists, but that is because we need that time to be educated in surgery, which optometrists do not do. Optometrists learn everything that we do, except the actual procedures of surgery, and even then, some optometry schools are teaching the procedures just for general knowledge. Anyway, just thought I would clear that up, from a knowledgeable point of view.

    37. Hi, please can you shed some light on my prescription: in March 2006 it was
      Right: distance Sph -0.75, Cyl -1.25, Axis 175
      Left : distance Sph -0.50, Cyl -1.50, Axis 3

      Last week I had my eyes tested anf it now reads
      Right: didtance Sph -.075, Cyl -1.25, Axis 5, Near +1.25
      Left: distance Sph -0.50, Cyll -1.50 , Axis 180, Near +1.25

      was told that there was no change in prescription, but I have had glasses made up to the new prescription and have been suffering headaches since, so have went back to using my old glasses.
      My query is can the axis change this significantly? And could this cause headaches?

      Many thanks

    38. Hi Janice!
      Thanks for your question and I apologize for not responding sooner.

      There really is not any change in your prescription at all. The Axis change is really nothing to be concerned about. The Axis in your right eye only changed by 10 degres and the Axis in your left eye only changed 3 degrees which is barely anything.
      Some people react differently to axis change. With a 10 degree change, you may get a headache, but it shouldn’t last no more than a few days. Just as if you are getting use to a new prescription change. Your brain actually has to adjust to this new change. I really do not see the axis change as being the problem.

      What I do notice is that you have an ADD prescription of +1.25 OU in your script now. With your new glasses, do you get just the distance prescription or did you actually get the ADD (near) power in (as in a bifocal or a progressive lens) them? If you have never worn a progressive lens before, then it will take longer to get use to them. I recommend getting a pair of FT28 as a first pair of bifocals because you adjust to them better. Yeah, they might not be as stylish as the progressive (no-line), but it won’t take you quite as long to adjust.
      If the headaches last more than a week, I would go back to see your doctor and explain what is going on.
      Let me know what happens….Thanks Janice and good luck!


    39. Hello,

      I recently had my eyes tested as I’m always using VDU’s, probably about 10 hrs a day with work etc. The Optician gave me this as my prescription Right Eye: +0.50/-o.25×10, Left Eye: +0.50/-0.50×180.

      What does this actually mean?

      Kind Regards

    40. Hi Angie

      I have just had my eyes tested today – I have been having some real trouble with my vision and the optician indicated I had a strong prescription. My prescription is
      right -0.75-0.25 110
      left -0.75-0.25 70
      but reading the above it doesn’t seem that strong. Do I really need glasses for this prescription?

      Thanks, S

    41. How oes it mean Ou = -0.50 x 180

    42. how does OU = -05×180 means?

    43. HEllo i want to know how -0.50 x 180 means, looking forward for the answer thanks

    44. I am 74 yrs old. On 11/15/07 I had cataract surgery on my right eye. On 1/2/08 I had cataract surgery on my left eye. Before the surgery my prescription was:
      OD -075 -150 099 add 250
      OS PL(?) -125 096 add 250

      The prescription following these surgeries is:
      OD +0.50 -1.00 102 add 2.75
      OS -1.50 -1.25 086 add 2.75

      I had this prescription filled, the glasses are not working ( i get blurring and have to turn my head to get clear vision). I am having them rechecked on 4/15/08.

      I have two concerns: 1; most of my friends who have had cataract surgery do not have to have glasses at all (except for readers they have purchased at the drug store); and 2; have my prescriptions changed enough considering the cataract surgery.

      Thank you in advance for your help.

    45. My friend says that his eyes are soooo bad. They are 2400. What does that mean? How does that compare to my prescription -8.00 OS -4.25 OD

    46. My sphere is listed as 75 for the right eye and 50 for the left eye.

      Your examples all show single digit numbers w/ a decimal point.

      Does this mean that my spheres are really 7.5 and 5.0 ??

    47. Hi I went for an exam today, thought I was seeing fine.( Well I was finding my arms were not long enough for that small print) but I was sent home with a percription do i really need to go from no glasses to bifocals? this is what the script says or can I get by with some drug stor cheaters? Unfortunately I have no vision coverage on insurance. thanks
      D.V od plain, -100,180
      os -0.50,-025,15
      N,V. od +150
      os +150

    48. hi angie,
      I wanted to clarify some doubts.
      Is it wrong to write just near add without repeating the astigmatism which is already mentioned with the distance correction. I am a optometic student. I used to write it in the first format you mentioned. But in my new work place I was criticised for not writing like your third mentioned format. I had instances where wrong dispencing was made and I had to refund.
      Please clarify.

    49. my prescription for my contacts is -4.25. is this bad? what is this on the “20/20” scale?

    50. My prescription reads:
      -1.00 Sphere
      -0.75 +1.50 X 180

      Is the first line my right eye and the second my left? There is no designation. I’m assuming that the first line is my right. I’d like to purchase eyeglasses online.
      Thank you,

    51. how do i read the following prescription from europe.

      (175 -4.00) +3.25 addition +2.00

      (5 -3.25) +2.75 addition +2.00

    52. A couple of concerns!
      I am ordering my glasses online and am confused by the prescription my eye doc faxed to me. My OD reads Sph:-2.50 Cyl: -0.50 Axis: 1.44 The axis is most clearly demarked 1.44. Is that supposed to be 144 or should I round to 1.0? Also, my PD is 32.50, but the website I am ordering from begins at 35 and goes up…
      I have always gotten headaches from my glasses, it’s nothing new. I am concerned, however, and really wish that I could wear them for long periods of time without feeling that crunch on my sinuses (which also leaves impressions on my nose). Is it time to super-thin my glasses? They don’t appear to be very thick…. The prescript is over 2 years old, but I think that it shouldn’t be harmful to have glasses that are under-prescribed, right?

    53. I have two pairs of glasses, and each has two numbers separated by a square symbol. It says 59 square 14 on my old pair. My new glasses say 52 square 19. What do these numbers mean? I have astigmatism, and my old glasses still work very well for me, though perhaps not perfectly. My new glasses are sharper, but they make the room look like it is tilting to my left. The tilting effect looks so real it gives me vertigo. Help!

    54. Never assume anything when it comes to eyeglasses. Call your Doctor’s office and ask point blank, “what is the of my right eye?, And what is the of my left eye?”

      I plan to do the same to my Doctor. They didn’t write the “add” for what I presume to be my left eye, since they told me the astigmatism is in my right eye only, or label “od/os”

      Don’t you just hate when they make it as cryptic as possible to prevent you from getting the proper prescription without going directly through them.

    55. I noticed that in an earlier response to Angie on March 30th, 2008 you said that a 3 to 10 degree change in axis was not enough to cause a major problem. Last year my DV LE Axis was 162, this year I got a new script and it shows DV LE 100. Would an eye change axis that much or was this an incorrect fitment?

    56. hi iv been to the optition after 18 months of having new glassess because i was getting very painful migrains with no comfort for days.
      i was finding myself very tired quickly as im doing an NVQ…
      he said there was something wrong and that he didnt know if it had always bin there and bin missed and gradually got worse or something had triggered my sight to get worse.
      my prescription is:
      R 0.00 -1.75 65.0
      L 0.00 -1.75 105.0

      he is sending me to the eye infirmary through a G.P referel is there anything you could tell me about this condition… because he said the name so quick… he told me the worse that could happen was they would put a hard lense in my eye to correct my sight. i would like to understand it more as i want to be prepared and what to expect… many thanx caragh

    57. yay tim regarding your comment about the optometrists vs opthalmologists!!! i also think susannah may have had base curve issues combined with presbyopia denial–LOL
      also the doctor may have purposely under corrected one eye puposely to put off the progerssives. (i’m an optician by the way)

    58. an optician who seems to like the puposely it seems!! sorry i used that twice

    59. C. Jerry Walker said:

      I want a pair of glasses with the top being plain glass and the bifocal part being 1.75. How is the prescription written. Thanks. Jerry Walker

    60. I just got a prescription for progressive lenses and don’t really understand my prescription. Isn’t there normally one value per eye (when people tell me their prescription it is usually just one value)?
      My prescription is:
      OD: +25
      Add +100

      Is this a pretty mild prescription?
      Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    61. I just got a prescription for progressive lenses and don鈥檛 really understand my prescription. Isn鈥檛 there normally one value per eye (when people tell me their prescription it is usually just one value)?
      My prescription is:
      OD: +25
      OS: +050/025/75
      Add +100

      Is this a pretty mild prescription?
      Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    62. My eyes went from 1.25 to 2.75 is that a big difference in 2 yrs?

    63. I have a few questions, if that’s all right.

      First, my Rx from 7/07 is
      OD: +1.00 -1.75 x 010 ADD +1.50
      OS: plano -0.50 x 170 ADD +1.50

      Yesterday, I 8/14/08, I got my eyes checked at a different optometrist’s office. The Rx is
      OD: +0.75 -1.50 x 010 ADD +1.75
      OS: +0.25 – 1.00 x 175 ADD +1.75

      I’m concerned that the optometrist got the AXIS wrong on my left eye. Shouldn’t the AXIS still be 170? Why would/could the AXIS change?

      Should I be concerned about the jump of the ADD POWER after only 1 year?

      In the new Rx, my right eye has less correction since last year’s Rx. Does that seem odd or peculiar to you?

      I got my eyes rechecked after only 1 year because I’m thinking about either getting bifocals or Varilux progressives and wanted to make sure any new glasses I get would last as long as possible, considering how costly they are. I currently have a pair of polarized progressive sunglasses and a regular pair of progressives, noting that I bought both of those from Lenscrafters at the same time. However, while the progressive sunglasses have been fine, the regular progressive pair has not been all right.

      Is it possible that my eyes can’t adjust to regular progressive lenses or is it more particularly the maker of the Lenscrafters Scotchguard Complete progressive lenses that my eyes can’t handle?

      Thank you very much, looking forward to your reply.

    64. I have a question. I would like to get a pair of swim goggles with a drugstore quality prescription, but my eye exam is over a year old, and I forgot to write it down, so my optometrist cannot tell me my prescription. Is there a way to try on reading glasses at a store and translate the number form “+” to “-“? My glasses are still fine, and I cannot afford an exam right now, but I would like to see better when I am in the pool. Thanks for your help.

    65. I just took my Mom to the Ophthamologist and she got a prescription as follows:

      R Sph: – 4.50 Cyl: + 3.00 Axis: 180 Add: + 3.00
      L + 1.75 + 2.50 165 + 3.00

      When we got to where she wanted to get her glasses, WalMart Optical, the paperwork had translated the numbers to:

      R Sph: – 1.50 Cyl: – 3.00 Axis: 90 Add: + 3.00
      L + 4.25 – 2.50 75 + 3.00

      I noticed this and asked why the difference. The person said something about there being a difference between the way that Optometrists (they might have said opticians) and Ophthamologists record the same thing. I indicated that this sounded odd to me. When I got home I checked the last several years and all of them have a significant difference like the one shown above……. but I can’t figure it out. I would think that all prescriptions are the same so that any lab, doctor or vision center would know what the other was talking about. Can you shed any light on this?

    66. I have a question about my Rx. I just had my eyes checked two days ago, the Rx is a lot different than the one from two years ago. The one from two years ago says:

      OD +25 cylinder -.75 x 002
      OS +50 cylinder 1.00 x 177

      The new Rx from two days ago says:

      OD -25 cylinder -1.00 x 007
      OS Plano cylinder 1.25 x 011

      I don’t understand the change. I understand Plano means no power, but my left eye has always been weaker than the right eye for few years. Can someone explain how I could go from having a power +75 in my left eye to plano in two years. Could anyone explain that. I don’t have glasses w/the new Rx yet. I do have trouble seeing near and far without glasses especially driving. It’s hard to read street signs w/o glasses. When I had the eye exam, and I had to look at an eye chart with my left eye with my right eye covered, I had trouble focusing on the letters. Shouldn’t the sphere have a higher power than two years ago? Can anyone answer my question for me? I would appreciate if someone can help me. Thank you


    67. I have a prescription of

      Spherical Cylindrical Axis
      OD -1.25 -0.75 090
      OS -0.75 -1.00 105

      I want to buy some swim goggles online and they ask for diopters but I don’t know how to translate the prescription to the proper diopter.

      Can you help?

    68. My prescription has the axis written as 005, but the online site where I am trying to buy eye-glasses has the axis choices beginning at zero and going up by single digits to 180. Should I choose their “5” or do they not have my prescription? (I bought glasses from them before that were great, but since then my prescription has changed since I had eye surgery for strabismus.)

    69. I don’t happen to have my Rx on me, but I was surfing around trying to find some info and found this, thought I’d give it a shot. I have a bad astigmatism in my left eye, always have (have been asked if it was caused by an injury… gets worse, not better with correction…) Well I went to an optometrist this morning for a contact exam and did horribly on the left eye. He just could not come up with anything remotely clear. I thought he’d keep going but stopped and said he just couldn’t figure out why my prescription hadn’t really changed but I wasn’t seeing as well. I was very confused and he really didn’t explain himself well. He said he would look in the eyes to see if he could find any medical reason, but they looked fine he said. He upped that eye’s Rx just very slightly but said it shouldn’t explain why I wasn’t seeing well, because my Rx hadn’t really changed…

      What on earth does that mean??? Should I go to an ophthalmologist?? Sorry if this doesn’t give you enough information, as I said, he really didn’t say anything other than my Rx wasn’t much different… I just wasn’t ‘seeing as well’…

      Thanks in Advance. Bonnie

    70. yusef farmer said:


      how often r prescriptions wrong?
      who usually makes the errors the doc or the lab tech?
      by the way this site was extremely informative. thank you for taking the time you do at this site….

    71. I was told by someone that with my prescription, I would be considered legally blind. My left eye is -5.75 and my right eye is -5.25, however I am squinting with my current contacts, and so I know this is not up to date. I wasn’t sure if what they told me is correct. How does this compare to 20/20 or 20/200? Thanks!

    72. Thanks for the very informative post!

    73. Hi, I was wondering if you could help me.
      My prescription is as
      -3.50 in both eyes and no astigmatism.
      I ‘m trying to buy glasses online and i do not know what type of lens to choose. I know it will be something like polycarbonate but when i read the high index and all the aspheric lens lingo I ‘m getting confused.


    74. Hi, I’m a college student, and I just went over eye disorders recently, and had a question about my own vision.

      My prescription reads:

      OD -1.50 -2.00 140

      OS -6.00 sph

      I’m not sure what this means. I know for my left eye, sph means i don’t have an astigmatism, but what about the -6.00? I had an eye injury when i was 4 years old (i’m now 21) and my cornea is scarred. Am i legally blind in that eye?


    75. I was wondering what my prescription is. I had lasik eye surgery about 3 or 4 years ago. I had better than 20×20 but now I have notice it has gotten a bit harder to see certain things far away. I went back and had another eye exam and they said since I became pregnant a little while after the surgery that it can change your eyes. My new prescription is
      R.E. pl is spherical -1.00 cylidrical and 003 axis
      L.E. pl is specerical — is cylindrical adn nothing for axis.

      What does this mean.
      Thanks, April

    76. i have a question about my glasses. i got my new prescription about three month ago, after using them for a few week they never felt as good as my old ones. i have had a new test an they have said my eyes have change. i paid for my first precription now i have to pay again. can my eyes change that fast an i have told them they have not felt right from day one. first one in left eye sph + 1.75 cyl -150 axis 175. right eye sph +050 cyl – 0.25 axis 8. an my new one in the left +2.00 -2.75 168. in the right +0.75 -0.50 15. can my eyes change so fast or should i tell them i need my money back for the first prescription please help thank you.

    77. My daughter was told by the nurse at school that she has 20/100 vision. I took her to the docs. She got a RX that reads od -1.25 -.50 80
      os -1.25 -.50 90

      What does this mean? 20/100 seems really bad?

    78. Hi, I just got a prescription that reads OD pl
      OS pl
      Add: +0.75

      What does that tell you about my eyesight?
      Do I really need glasses?
      Thanks and Happy New Year.

    79. I had two eye exams during a 4 month period and I received very different Rx prescriptions:

      1. O.D. -4.25 + 1.25 x 177
      O.S. -3.75 + 1.50 x 12

      2. O.D. -3.50 – 150 x 85
      O.S. -2.50 – 150 x 95

      Why is there such a difference in the numbers?

    80. my eyesight
      right sph 1.75 cyl 0.75 axis 180 v.a 0.8p
      left sph 1.50 cyl 1.oo axis 180 v.a 0.7p

      what is this. this distance normal or severe. normal eyesight howmuch. if this problem how to solve this. eyeglass constant or not.how to solve this problem nature.

    81. Hi can any one tell me what number this is? sph +5.00 cyl -3.00 axis 180.0,and are they the same as in Europe,This number was given to my Son who is 5 years old,please some one let me know thank you

    82. I’m having a ‘discussion’ with my optician and my optomotrist. Just picked up new glasses yesterday for which I paid a tidy sum. I truly cannot tell the difference between new and old. Would like an opinion about the difference in the two prescriptions and whether I should recognize a difference:

      Old: OD +1.75-0.50X085
      OS +1.75-0.05×070
      Add +2.00

      New: OD+2.50-1.00×085

      Optomotrist told me that there was a SLIGHT difference in the prescription. This was after I picked up the new glasses at which time I told him that had he told me that in the beginning there was no way I would have replaced them.

      Optician told me that the change was significant.

      Can you help me determine who is telling me the truth? I need some education before I go back to the optician to ask for a refund. Optomotrist and optician work out of the same office.

    83. I took my 6yr old son to get his eyes checked because the nurse at his school said he might need glasses, his left eye was 20/40. I then took him to his pediatrician who gave him the simple test and it was 20/70 myopia and suggested I take him to a theraputic optometrist. I took him to an optometrist and his rx reads: o.d. jd +050 105
      o.s. +025 +200 015
      what does jd mean? does this mean he is nearsighted? He has difficulty seeing things that are far away. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    84. Hi guys
      Can anyone please help me with this prescription….It read exactly like this…..

      Sphere Cyl Axis
      PL -275 175
      -050 -275 013

      what does PL mean and how do I know which one is right and which is left?


    85. lina barnett said:

      what does OD: +1.00 -0.50 115 OS: +1.25 -0.50 065 mean? Any info would be helpful. thanks, lina barnett

    86. Thanks! I was puzzled by the opthamologist’s reluctance to use decimal points, but I now understand my prescription thanks to the table near the top of your post.

    87. Thanks so much for all of this information. I am trying to understand my prescription so I can order a backup pair of glasses online. If you have the time to help I would greatly appreciate it. If not, I understand. Here is what I have.

      sph cyl axis
      OD: -25 -50 060
      OS: -50 sph

    88. sorry…I just tried to post my prescription, but my “chart” didn’t come out right…here goes again:


    89. hi!
      I just had my eye exam!
      and I just wanna know if it makes sense

      OD -475 -075 180
      OS -425 -075 175

      is this mean

      -475 equal to -4.75?

      and if I want to get contact lens
      than am I going with -475 and -425??

    90. Debbie Williams said:

      Could you please explain mine’s and my husband’s RX


      MINE: D (R) +075 -275 010

      (L) +200 -325 167 Pd

      R (R) +250 -275 010 NEAR

      (L) +375 -325 167 Pd

      HIS: D (R) +325 -100 171 Dist

      (L) +350 -100 009 Pd

      R (R) +500 -100 171 NEAR

      (L) +525 -100 009 Pd

      Both of us have reading power of +1.75

      We don’t understand these these prescriptions.

      Thank- You

    91. I was wondering if someone could help me with my perscription, like how bad it is.


    92. sorry about the split post
      cyl axix
      r -025 180
      l -050 175

    93. Hello!

      I brought my son to the opthalmologist because of “recurrent erosion syndrom” when he was 3. Now last year he had another episode and we sought the dr again. He gave us a treatment and sent us on our way stating that my son might need glasses but it was to soon to tell. Well, he was seen last week and given that Cedric has trouble seeing far (left eye only), he gave us a prescrition. I don’t get it and now that we have the eyeglasses, I am questionning it. If my son can’t see far and has astigmatism, why was he given the following prescription, which I was told is for hypermetropia:

      OD pl + 1.00 x 90
      OS pl + 1.75 x 90

      Thanks in advance,


    94. my prescription is
      sphere r-750 and l-700
      cylinder r-100 l-075
      axis r 035 l 140

      can anyone make sense of this to me and compare it to 20/20and also tell me if i have an astigmatism i just dont get the explanations ive been given any information would be much appreciated.


    95. Sammi Fong said:

      Hello there!
      I have a question about how to read my prescription?
      I have read what you wrote and honestly it just isn’t clicking in my head for me.

      Here’s my prescription:
      OD: -4.75 sphere, -0.25 cyl, & 012 axis
      OS: -5.00 sphere, -.050 cyl, & 170 axis

      How would I convert this into a site like 1800contacts where it simply asks for my “power”?
      Would it be -4.75 for OD & -5.00 for OS?

    96. How would the following translate into a contacts prescription

      DV. OD spherical -.50 cylindrical -1.25 axis 90
      DV. OD spherical -.25 cylindrical -1.50 axis 70

    97. My prescription reads:

      Right eye Sph is P1

      What is P1?


    98. Aurelio said:

      My prescription reads,

      OD – 1.25

      OS – 1.25

      63 PD.

      While I was getting my eye exam, my doctor told me that one eye is stronger than the other. But as you can see above, both eyes are the same strength. Could this be a mistake?

    99. Angie,

      This website is very helpful! Thank you very much for explaining the different prescriptions!


    100. Hi
      My 6 year olod daughter’s spectacle prescription reads:
      right + 6.5
      left + 6.5 + 2.0 x 140
      Can you please tell me what this means, is it a strong prescription, will she be suitable for any corrective surgery in the future?
      I am currently patching her right eye for about 4 hours per day to strengthen her left eye.

    101. Ellen Hall said:

      What does this mean: Pl -1.50×85 /
      / +2.00
      -.25 -1.00×90 /

    102. Rosa Marie McGivern said:

      I am 43 y/o and I have noticed changes in my vision.
      1 year ago I had an exam and was told thatI would most likely need prescription glasses for distance.
      I got two different RX from 2 different opticians.
      How do I know which one is right?
      #1: Spherical: O.D. -0.25 Cylindrical: illegible Axis: –
      O.S. -0.25 -0.50 170

      #2: Spherical: O.D. Plo Cylindrical: -0.25 Axis: 39
      O.S.-0.50 -0.25 157

    103. Hello there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I’ll forward this information to him.
      Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    104. I’m trying to order contacts and all my prescription says is
      -4.00 -0.50 x 030
      -3.50 -0.50 x 125
      When I go to order contacts it asked for curvature 8.7 or 8.3? I’m highly confused and tired of wearing glasses.

      • Hi Jon! When getting an exam you have to specify that you also want a contact lens exam. There’s specific size of the shape of your eye and in turn gives you your base curve which comes in 8.2 to 8.9. If you had your exam within a year, you can call your optometrist and ask if you can get a contact lens fitting. And if you had one then tell the dr that you need a copy of your contact lens prescription including the brand, base curve and diameter of the contacts. Hope this helps! Thanks for visiting!

    105. Greetings I am so gratefil I found your blog, I
      really found you by error, whil I was searching on Bing for something else, Anyhow I am
      here now and wluld just like to say thanks for a remarkasble post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time tto reaqd it all at the minute but
      I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will
      be back to read a great deal more, Pleaae do keep uup the fantastic

      • Thank you so much!! And thank you for visiting. Looking forward to providing much more useful information.

    106. Supposing one had this prescription:
      Sphere Cyl Axis Total Sphere + Cyl
      R +3.00 +0.75 75 +3.75
      L +2.75 +1.00 105 +3.75

      If one wants to buy an extra pair of spectacles for occasional use (e.g. to have available for looking at a map when out and about), does it make fairly good sense to add the sphere and cyl as I have done in the last column, and get some magnification glasses close to + 3.75 dioptres?
      Many thanks for you useful blog.

      • Hi and thanks for visiting. If you are wanting a pair of glasses just for reading then you would add your “add” power to your sphere power leaving your cylinder and axis the same. Hope this helps!!

    107. Cori Cann said:

      Would a 102 axis compared to a 101 axis make a difference in seeing better, as far as a prescription goes?

      My old script was +1.25, -.50, 101 in the right eye.

      +0.75 in the left, and 2.50 in both for reading addition.

      My new one is the same as the old one except for the axis of 102 now. The Optometrist had told me she was giving me the same prescription, but I’ve been having trouble focusing and decided to look up my old script and compare the two, and I see there is a different axis degree.

      • Hi Cori!! With only having a degree of change with your axis, that should not make any difference. Even if it was like 3 degrees off its still would not be noticeable. But I feel if you are concerned about any issues you might be experiencing, talk with your doctor. Thank you so much for your visit!! As always, I’d like to hear if your progress with the situation. Have an awesome day!!

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