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Understanding Your Prescription

Prescriptions are written in a number of different ways and may be a bit confusing, but the first thing we need to say is - don’t be put off! You can simply email your prescription to us and we can fill in the relevant details for you. A quick tip is to take a photo with your mobile phone and email it to us from there at (

There can also be a lot of information that we do not require written down. Where it mentions VA (aided vision) you will see numbers such as 4/6 or 6/6. We do not require this information for dispensing glasses.

Making Sense of Your Prescription

Making sense of your prescription is easier than you would think if you understand the jargon! Here are some terms used on your prescription:

SPH (sphere)

This is your correction for long or short sight. It can be a ‘-‘ value or a ‘+’ value and goes up in 0.25 steps - 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, 1.00 etc.


CYL (cylinder)

The correction for any astigmatism if you have one. It can be a ‘-‘ value or a ‘+’ value and goes up in 0.25 steps - 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, 1.00 etc.


The axis for which the correction for astigmatism needs to be set at. It will only be present if you have a value in CYL, and can be a value from 0 - 180.

ADD (addition)

Only required if you need to use glasses for reading and is always a ‘+’ value. NEAR means the same as ‘ADD’ above.

‘-‘ or ‘+’ This is VERY important as it indicates short or long sightedness. The ‘-‘ value is sometimes written above the value.

If you require reading glasses please include the NEAR or ADD. If you require distance /driving glasses then you may omit this.


PL may be written as 0, 0.00 or infinity (∞). These all mean the same thing! No correction required/nothing/0 - there is no refractive error.

DS (dioptre sphere)

DS usually appears under the CYL box and would indicate no CYL value and no astigmatism.

OD (oculus dexter)

OD is simply used to refer to the right eye.

OS (oculus sinister)

OS is used when referring to the left eye.

The Important Points to Note Are:

  • Make sure you do not confuse + and – values on your sphere and cylinder values
  • Make sure you enter the axis values exactly as they appear – do not enter 12.5 if it states 125

IF ordering reading glasses, don’t forget to enter your reading addition. This will appear sometimes as a single figure such as ADD=+125, written once. It ALWAYS applies to both eyes. Other times the reading prescription will be written next to NEAR and this will already include your reading addition. If this is the case, you will notice the cylinder and axis values remain the same for distance and near and the only difference will be the spheres. The addition will be the difference in these values.

If you have been prescribed computer use glasses, you will have an intermediate addition written down, and this may also appear as INT ADD and again may be a single figure such as +1.00.

Please don’t be put off by your prescription – just remember you can email it ( or phone it through to us (01489572340)!

Let us take the worry away.

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