How to Read Your Contact Lens Prescription or Rx
Below are the definitions of the symbols/abbreviations used in a typical contact lens prescription:
- Eye – Which eyes the prescription line item is for.
- OS – Left Eye
- OD – Right Eye
- OU – Both Eyes
- BC – Base Curve (usually a number between 8 and 10)
- DIA – Diameter (usually a number between 13 and 15)
- SPH – Sphere (referred to as Power or PWR can be a negative or positive number)
- Brand – The brand name or type of contact lens that your Eye Care Provider has fitted you for.
Toric (Astigmatism correcting) Prescriptions
Prescriptions for these types of lenses contain two additional numbers that relate to the correction of the astigmatism. These two numbers are usually separated by an “X” and are indicated with the following symbols/abbreviations.
- CYL – Cylinder (usually a number between -4.00 and +4.00)
- AX – Axis (usually a number between 0 and 180)
Bifocal or Multifocal Prescriptions
Some patients require lenses that are bifocal or multifocal. Prescriptions for these types of lenses will contain an additional number with the following symbol/abbreviation.
- ADD – Also known as “Add Power” or “Extra Strength”
Additional Rx Information
- A contact lens prescription is not the same as an eyeglass prescription. In addition to the lens power, your contact lens prescription contains several other pieces of information related to the size of the lens.
- Even the power of the lenses is generally not the same as in your eyeglass prescription. This is because:
- The contact lens sits on the surface of your eye, while your eyeglasses sit about 10-12 mm in front of your eyes
- Regular soft contacts do not correct for your astigmatism, but your eye doctor will typically try to partially correct for it by changing the power of the lens.
- Your prescription will also contain an expiration date. This is one year from the date that the contact lenses were fitted and the prescription was finalized.
- Base Curve values range from about 8.0 to 10.0. The doctor fits the lens with the curvature most appropriate for your eye. Most lenses come in several different Base Curve values. If your prescription does not contain a Base Curve value, this is likely because your brand of lens only comes in one base curve.
- Just because you are a Base Curve 8.6 in one brand doesn’t mean you will be the same in another brand.
- Though not common, sometimes you can have a regular prescription for one eye, and a toric or bifocal prescription for your other eye. In this case you will not only have different parameters for each eye, but also usually a different brand/type of lens as well.
- If you have any issues please do not hesitate to call our office 973-232-6900 and we will gladly help you.