How strong is your Glasses prescription?

Explaining your eye prescription should be less about how “bad” it is, and more about how vision correction can improve your eyesight. The goal of eyeglasses and contact lenses is always 6/6 Vision, no matter what your prescription power.

The numbers, decimals, plus and minus signs may seem like a language spoken only by an eye specialist, but their meanings are more straightforward than you might think: These all relate to common eye conditions in some way.

The Spherical column is especially important, since a value closer to Zero means a mild condition, But there is more numbers in your spectacle prescription can tell you, about Short sightedness, Long sightedness Presbyopia and Astigmatism.

The answer is in your vision prescription

First things first — before we get to measurements, we have to be able to differentiate between right and left. The row labeled O.D. is for your right eye; the row labeled O.S. is for your left eye

If you don’t know whether you’re shortsighted or longsighted, your prescription can answer that for you. We’ll start with the box usually listed first: sphere (SPH).


This stands for “spherical power;” it represents how shortsighted or longsighted you are.

In the sphere column, do you see a minus sign followed by numbers in each row? That means you’re short sighted, and closer objects appear more clearly.

If you see plus signs followed by numbers, you’re long sighted, meaning you can see objects better when they’re farther away.

To find out how extensive your shortsightedness or longsightedness is, move to the numbers next to the plus or minus signs.

* If your figure is between -0.25 and -2.00, you have mild shortsightedness

*If your figure is between -2.25 and -5.00, you have moderate shortsightedness

*If your figure is lower than -5.00, you have high shortsightedness

For the longsighted, the AOA classifies it this way:

* If your figure is between +0.25 and +2.00, you have mild longsightedness

*If your figure is between +2.25 and +5.00, you have moderate longsightedness

*If your figure is greater than +5.00, you have high longsightedness

For both types, the closer you are to zero power the better your vision is.


This value only applies to people who have astigmatism, a common problem with the curvature of the cornea in front of the pupil.

The larger this number is, the more significant the level of astigmatism is. More significant astigmatism can mean a greater effect on your unassisted vision quality.


If you have a cylinder power listed, you’ll also have an axis number. This is only an angular measurement of astigmatism and doesn’t directly affect vision..


This specifically relates to presbyopia, the loss of your ability to focus on near objects as you age. Presbyopia is a normal part of the aging process, and it usually kicks in sometime after age 40.

The add value — short for added magnifying power — relates to the bottom lens in multifocal glasses. Unlike sphere and cylinder, this is always a positive number (even if it isn’t always preceded by a plus sign). The higher the add number, the more powerful the bottom lens is.


Pupillary distance (PD) is the distance between pupils of your eyes.

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