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How to Read Your Contact Lens Prescription

Reading your contact lens prescription may seem confusing at first, so we’ve broken it down for you.

Rx Example

The meaning for each abbreviation:

  • OD: Oculus Dexter (Latin for right eye)
  • OS: Oculus Sinister (Latin for left eye)
  • PWR: Power (also referred to as Sphere or SPH)
  • BC: Base Curve (usually a number between 8 and 10)
    • If your brand only comes in one base curve, your prescription will not contain a BC value
    • Your BC might be different depending on the brand
  • DIA: Diameter (usually a number between 13 and 15)
  • Brand: The brand of contact lenses fitted for your eyes

Toric Lenses for Astigmatism

Sample Prescription

Astigmatism Rx

Prescriptions to correct astigmatism contain two additional numbers that are indicated by the following abbreviations:

  • CYL: Cylinder (usually a number between -2.25 and -0.75)
  • AX: Axis (usually a number between 0 and 180)

Multifocal Lenses for Presbyopia

Multifocal lenses for presbyopia (in one or both eyes) prescriptions contain an additional indication of "high" "medium" or "low" with the following abbreviation:

  • ADD: Also known as "Add Power" or "Extra Strength"

Sample Prescription

Multifocal Rx

Why Your Contact Lens Prescription is Important

You need a valid contact lens prescription before being able to purchase contacts. Doctors prescribe a contact lens that is perfectly fitted for your eye shape by measuring your eye surface during a contact lens exam.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your eye care prescriber is required by law to provide you with a copy of your prescription. Contact lens prescriptions usually expire after one year. If your prescription hasn’t changed, you can renew your prescription online for free with our Online Vision Test. Annual eye exams are still necessary to maintain overall eye health.

Always consult with your eye care professional if you are having problems with the contact lenses they prescribed. Feel free to reach out to our Customer Service Team with any questions or concerns.

Want to learn how to read your eyeglasses prescription too? Head over to our sister site, and read How to Read Your Glasses Prescription.

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Contact lens prescriptions can be confusing at first. Learn all about your contact lens prescription to order the correct contacts.