Have you ever looked at your optical prescription and wondered what it actually says about your eyes? The information on your prescription can be difficult to interpret, but once you understand the terms used by your optometrist you'll be able to read your glasses prescription with ease.

Your prescription is split into several sections and you may see a number in each section with a plus or minus sign next to it. Zero is the baseline when taking measurements of your eyes, so the higher the number the stronger your prescription will be. Here's an overview of each section of your prescription:


The information noted in the sphere section of your prescription tells you whether you are long-sighted or short-sighted. If you see a plus sign in this section you are long-sighted and need glasses to see objects at close range. A minus sign indicates you are short-sighted and need glasses to focus on distant objects. The number next to the plus or minus sign indicates the focussing power needed to correct your vision.


This section will be filled in if you have astigmatism, which is a common visual disturbance. The number in this section indicates the severity of astigmatism present in each eye. Astigmatism is caused by an uneven curve in your cornea, which prevents your eye from focussing light on the retina at the correct angle. This can cause you to experience blurred vision, which your glasses should correct.


The axis section will only be filled in if you have astigmatism. A number between 0 and 180 will be listed to indicate the direction of the curve in your cornea, and this lets the processing lab know what angle to position your lenses in your frames.


This section indicates whether your eyes are misaligned, which can be caused by a muscle imbalance. Misalignment can cause headaches and blurred vision, but it can be corrected by attaching a prism to the lenses of your glasses. A prism is a small piece of glass that curves light as it enters your eyes, and the number in this section relates to the size of prism you need to achieve perfect alignment.


If your prescription is for bifocal lenses, this section will record the added magnifying power you need for reading. Bifocals enable you to see both near and distant objects without switching between two pairs of glasses.

New prescription glasses don't require an adjustment period and your eyes should feel comfortable as soon as you put them on.  If you have any discomfort such as eye strain or blurred vision, schedule another appointment with your optometrist (like those at Eye Society Pty Ltd) as your prescription may need to be fine-tuned.