Let’s Get Things Clear: How to Read Results of an Eye Exam – Vision Express PH
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Let’s Get Things Clear: How to Read Results of an Eye Exam

Everyone knows their LOL, OOTD, and LMAO, but when it comes to eye exam results, do you go WTH? We feel you!

Here’s an acronym guide to make eye exam results less cryptic, allowing you to better understand your eyes. These are the acronyms, terms, signs, and numbers that are used in eyeglass prescriptions:

OD and OS

For starters, OD stands for
oculus dexter, which is a Latin term for “right eye,” while OS means oculus sinister, which means, “left eye.” Other eye exam results may also have a column for OU, which means oculus uterque, equivalent to “both eyes” in layman’s terms.

Many prescriptions nowadays are using RE and LE for the right eye and left eye. But in case you do come across OD and OS, you’ll get it because you know what they stand for.


SPH is an abbreviation for “sphere.” Sphere indicates the amount of prescription power needed to correct your vision. Eyeglass prescription power is measured in diopters, represented by the letter D, usually found after the numerical data. If the sign before the number is a minus sign (-), you are nearsighted. If it has a plus sign (+), you are farsighted. 

Whether it’s accompanied by a minus or plus sign, the higher the number, the stronger the prescription needed.


Woman wearing clear eyeglasses sitting in a chair

CYL is a shortened form for “cylinder.” This shows the amount of eyeglass power needed to correct astigmatism. When this column is blank, that means you’re not suffering from astigmatism.

However, when your eye exam reveals you have astigmatism, it means there’s something wrong with the curvature of your eye’s cornea or lens. This leads to blurry or distorted vision, eyestrain, headaches, and squinting to try to see clearly.

As in the case of SPH, the numbers under this column may have a plus or minus sign. A plus sign means farsighted astigmatism and minus sign means nearsighted astigmatism. The higher the number, the more severe the astigmatism is.


AXIS describes the degree and direction of your astigmatism. It is defined with a number from 1 to 180. Just like in a protractor, the number 90 represents the vertical meridian of the eye, while the number 180 corresponds to the horizontal meridian. An AXIS value sometimes has an “x” before the number.

An eye exam result that shows a CYL power needs to include an AXIS value. If the patient doesn’t suffer from astigmatism, then there’s no need to indicate the AXIS.


Man sitting in a living room while reading a book with his dog wearing clear eyeglasses

Presbyopia is when your eyes have trouble focusing on objects up close. If you have presbyopia, this column will indicate a value. This is additional power measurement for the bifocal and multifocal lenses needed to correct presbyopia. The number under this section is always a plus power so it doesn’t need to be preceded by a plus sign. The value can range from 0.75 to 3.00 and the same power applies to both eyes.

A word of caution: Eyeglass prescription is NOT meant for contact lenses

Just because both can be used for the eyes doesn’t mean their prescription results can be used interchangeably.

For one, contact lens prescription uses different indicators or measurements from eyeglass prescription. It needs to specify the measure for the base or central curve of the contact lens and its diameter. The specific manufacturer and brand name of the lens should also be indicated.

Is your eye exam result clear now?

Young man wearing clear eyeglasses and white polo shirt

It’s always a good thing to know and understand a thing or two about your medical exam results, especially when it talks about your eye health. This way, discussing your condition and needs to your ophthalmologist or optometrist becomes easier without you feeling dissociated.

Now you can make it a practice to ask for copies of your prescriptions and use them as reference when you need to replace your glasses, compare past and present results, or for future eye check-ups.

This is just a general view of how to read an eye exam result. Should you need further clarification or assistance when it comes to your eye health, Vision Express is here for you. Our branches are all around major cities. Check out our store locator to find one near you!


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1. Heiting, Gary. (2019 July). How to Read Your Eyeglasses Prescription.
Retrieved from https://www.allaboutvision.com/eyeglasses/eyeglass-prescription.htm

2. The Eye Practice. (2017, May 26). A Quick Guide to Interpreting Eye Test Results.
Retrieved from https://www.theeyepractice.com.au/optometrist-sydney/guide-to-interpreting-eye-test-results

3. Lens Crafters. How to Read Your Eyeglass Prescription.
Retrieved from https://www.lenscrafters.com/lc-us/vision-guide/glasses-prescription

4. Griff, Ann Marie. (2018, December 14). How to Read Your Eye Prescription.
Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/how-bad-is-my-eye-prescription