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Frequently Asked Question: FAQ

I have a copy of my prescription and don’t know what these three columns mean??

In reading a prescription there are three columns that tell what your best corrected vision consists of: Sphere, Cylinder and Axis.

Sphere indicates the amount of power needed to correct for the inability to see distance (myopia) or near (Hyperopia).  In order to tell if your correction is for distance or near, it will be given a symbol (+) or (-). The (+) symbol means that you most likely are having trouble seeing up close whereas the (-) symbol means that you are having trouble seeing at a distance.

Cylinder is the amount of correction for astigmatism (please see astigmatism for definition) and found next to the sphere column.  The cylinder power basically means that light is not focusing on the retina well and is therefore causing burry images. The cylinder is usually written with a (-) symbol however if your prescription does not have a number here that means that you do not have an astigmatism.

Axis indicates the direction or position of the astigmatism in the eye (cylinder power). This needs to be properly placed in order to allow sharp vision. The axis numbers/degrees are measured ranging from 1 to 180 degrees. The key component in reading a prescription is that the cylinder power must always be followed by the axis degree. Simply, one cannot be present without the other!


My doctor told me I have Astigmatism, what does that mean?

Astigmatism is nothing to be scared of! It basically means that your cornea is not evenly shaped throughout.

Imagine a basketball:


It has only one curve on the entire ball and is perfectly round.  This means that your eye is sphere  (non astigmatism).

Now let us imagine a football:



It has two curves and they are not even. This is the same with someone who wears glasses. When reading your prescription if you only see one number (i.e. -2.25 DS or -1.25 DS) than you have no astigmatism. If however if your prescription has 3 numbers (i.e. -1.25 -0.25×180 or -2.00 -1.25×020) than you have an astigmatism. All an astigmatism means is that your vision requires a little help at distance, intermediate and/or near to see clearly. Not all of the curves of your cornea are even so an aspheric lens is advised.


What do OD and OS mean?

OD aka Oculus Dexter is Latin for Right

OS aka Oculus Sinister is Latin for Left

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is the inability to focus at near (reading). Usually Presbyopia is a developmental condition that comes to visit everyone in their mid forties (43-45). Unfortunately there is no way to stop the developing of Presbyopia and you will find that near objects are no longer in focus at your normal reading area. The only way to correct Presbyopia is to purchase a pair of eyeglasses.


“I went to my eye doctor and he/she said my prescription changed AGAIN will it continue to get worse”?

There is no direct answer that can be given with regards to the fluctuation in your vision. At times when patients go to see their Optometrist their vision improves other times it changes but it is case by case. There is no way to determine if your prescription will get better or worse in the upcoming year but you can try to improve your vision by eating green leafy vegetables (Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, Collard Greens etc.) and taking Omega 3 fish oil.

Do I need a Progressive?

Progressives are no-line bifocals or “blended bifocals” that have your distance, intermediate (computer range) and reading prescription all blended in one lens. This is a type of lens that is beneficial for patients that are Presbyopic and feel that intermediate and near is becoming more difficult to focus. This is also a beneficial lens to have if you are someone who has multiple glasses and you switch them off and on as needed. A progressive lens will allow you to keep your glasses on at all times, not having to worry about looking for the other pair. There are also different progressive layouts that can be customized to fit the need of each patient (i.e. more reading, intermediate, less peripheral distortion etc.).  Progressive lenses are of new advanced technology and are becoming more in demand.


What are PD’s?

PD’s or Pupillary Distance is a measurement that is taken to determine the distance between your pupils. The reason for this measurement is to ensure that the prescriptions strength is in the central area that the eye will be focused at, allowing the vision to be sharper. PD’s are measured using what we call a pupillometer and vary from person to person. In children their PD will change each year because they are growing and as a child grows so do their eyes. However, once you are an adult your PD’s will stay the same.


What is a Bifocal?

A Bifocal is a lens design that is comprised of two broken areas of use. The top or upper portion is designed for distance (far away) viewing and the bottom or lower portion is designed for near (close up) viewing. In utilizing a bifocal there is an apparent line going through the lens that allows for a difference in visual acuity at each range.


What is Single Vision?

A single vision lens is a lens design that allows for one specific range of view. “Single Vision” means just that; it is to be used for only one single focal length either distance, near or computer range. In a single vision lens there is no other refractive power blended or added to it. This is a standalone lens.

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