Image courtesy of lanuiop

After a visit to get your eyes tested, you could be forgiven for being a bit baffled by the abbreviations and numbers that appear on your prescription. It’s not just a bit of paper, these are your optical requirements, the particular requirements your eyes need to be able to see as well as possible; it is the ‘menu’ from which a dispensing optician will put together your visual feast in spectacle form.

Your Glasses Prescription: So what do all the numbers mean?

Well, as you look at the prescription, the right eye correction is always on the left of the page (just to confuse you), this is because us opticians always imagine that we’re looking at you, so it’s OUR right as opposed to YOUR right. Confused? Well it should become clearer as I go on. The prescription is broken down into a SPHERICAL power and where applicable a CYLINDER and an AXIS (a cylinder will always have an axis with it).

The spherical component will either be positive (long sighted) or negative (short sighted) and for the lucky few zero (or plano) if the eye has “perfect” vision. As always unfortunately, the higher the number or further away it is from plano, the more long or short sighted you are.

The cylinder value shows us that the eye is not round (football shaped) but oval (rugby ball shaped), both shapes are very common and both can give a great pair of spectacles! The cylinder value can again be writen in positive or negative form but in most eye tests a negative value is most common (purely down to where the ophthalmic optician went to university). The axis that follows shows us quite simply which meridian or axis this cylinder power runs on and could be anything between 1 and 180 degrees.

Now those numbers will represent the distance (driving, tv, walking around) part of your vision. In a lot of cases, the optician will have written underneath (but it could be written anywhere unfortunately) a reading addition. This is the extra help you need to see things close-up and is normally written down as simply ADD. This number is always positive and will sometimes have R+L (right and left obviously) after it. It is very rare to have an ADD for one eye only or to have different ADDs for each eye.

Your Glasses Prescription: Why do prescriptions look different from different opticians?

Although they all give the same information, prescriptions can be written in many different and untidy ways. There is no industry standard prescription and so most opticians use what best suits their systems. If you find that you are unsure about any part of your prescription, the best course of action is to speak to a dispensing optician before ordering. They may be just numbers to you but to us they can reveal all we need to know about your eyesight and help us to create a perfect pair of specs for you.

You can speak to any of our highly trained dispensing opticians on 08456 88 20 20. Monday-Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm.