How to Read a Contact Lens Prescription

How to Read a Contact Lens Prescription

Feel Good Contacts make buying your contact lenses online even more accessible, as we don’t need to see your prescription before you order. We trust that you have an up-to-date prescription and know which lenses you need. If you don't have a copy to hand when ordering and can't remember your specifics, you can even find the details of your prescription on the side/end of your last contact lens packaging or on the blister packs that contain your contact lenses.

What is my contact lens prescription?

A contact lens prescription contains all of your visual specifications and lets you know which type of lenses you need. To help make things that little bit simpler, we’ve written a guide on everything you need to know about your prescription when ordering contact lenses online.

It's essential to note that a contact lens prescription is not the same as a glasses prescription. So, if you’re a glasses wearer who wants to try out contact lenses, you’ll need to go for a lens fitting to find out your requirements.

You should have been given your contact lens prescription from your optician after your last lens fitting. If not, then don’t hesitate to request your prescription, as it’s your legal right in the UK to own a copy. Alternatively, you can find it on the box of your contact lenses or on the blister packs containing the lenses.

Where can I find my prescription?

Your prescription can be found on the end or side of your contact lenses box, on the blister pack containing your lenses or on the piece of paper given to you by your optician after an eye test when you go for your contact lens fitting.

What do my contact lens prescription figures mean?

Although you don't need your contact lens prescription when purchasing your lenses from Feel Good Contacts, it is important to have a thorough understanding of what your prescription is.

Measurements given in a prescription include a base curve, diameter, power as well as cylinder and axis for those with astigmatism and ADD (addition) figures for presbyopia. You'll find that your left eye and right eye prescriptions may vary and for this reason, you'll see them listed separately. Below we have listed what each measurement means:

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Base curve (BC) – This figure determines the curve of the lens so that it can fit the curvature of your eye. This number is typically written in millimetres or sometimes given with the terms: flat, steep or median.

Diameter (DA) – Simply informing you of the width of the lens, this measurement is in millimetres.

Power/Sphere (PWR/SPH) – Power or Sphere indicates whether you are short-sighted or long-sighted. A plus sign (+) is for long-sightedness, and a minus sign (-) is for short-sightedness. The higher the number, the stronger the visual correction offered by the lens.

Prescription figures for astigmatism

Axis (AX) – Those with astigmatism have an unusual curve to their eye, which requires angular visual correction. The axis is a figure between 0 and 180, which determines how much of an angle of correction your lenses offer.

Cylinder (CYL) – This is a figure, specifically for toric lenses, that lets you know the severity of astigmatism and the additional visual requirements.

Prescription figures for presbyopia

Addition (ADD) - The Addition figure determines the level of correction needed for close distance visual clarity. This figure is between 0.50 and 3.00 or is referred to as low, medium or high.

Dominant (D) - multifocal contact lenses offer visual correction through a ‘dominant’ and ‘non-dominant eye’. The figures ‘D’ and ‘N’ are used to indicate which is which, respectively. You'll also find an expiration date on your prescription. The expiration date is typically a year after your check-up.

How to understand an eyeglass prescription?

Understanding an eyeglass prescription is different from a contact lenses prescription. Your prescription for eyeglasses may have numbers listed under the headings od and os, which are Latin abbreviations for oculus dexter and oculus sinister, meaning left and right eye.

Positive powers mean long-sightedness whereas minus powers mean near-sightedness. These powers are measured in dioptres and found in front of numbers used to measure the correction or focusing power. The further away the number is from zero, the worse your eyesight is, meaning you'll need a stronger prescription.

Those with astigmatism will find three numbers listed in their prescription:

  • S or sph or sphere, representing the degree of near-sightedness and farsightedness.
  • C or cyl or cylinder, which refers to astigmatism.
  • Axis-this reveals the orientation of astigmatism and is a number between 0-180 degrees.

Can I use my glasses prescription for contact lenses?

You cannot use your glasses prescription to purchase contact lenses. Both require a set of different measurements as they differ in their fitting characteristics.

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